23 Jun 2021
On Sunday 20th June 2021, Aspire Academy celebrated its 14th graduation with a record fifty-two (52) student athletes capped at a ceremony to mark the end of the 2020-21 academic year. In keeping with the current application of precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus, the limited attendance graduation ceremony was held in the Aspire Auditorium with Aspire Academy Director of Education and Student Care, Badr Al-Hay and Al-Jaber, School Principal, officiating and presenting certificates to graduating student-athletes.
In his address, Aspire Academy deputy Director General, Ali Salem Afifa highly commended the resilience, dedication, and mental strength of the graduating student-athletes for overcoming challenges including the global pandemic. “Most congratulations to you for celebrating today an amazing moment in your lives: graduating from Aspire Academy as the 14th batch, the largest batch ever so far in the history of our Academy. You have reached this important day in your long journey while courageously facing an unexpected global health crisis - the Coronavirus pandemic for the second academic year on end. I sincerely hope you and your families are staying safe and in good health. On behalf of all of us at Aspire Academy, I would like to say that we are proud of you and your determination and perseverance to overcome and challenge the difficult moments dictated by this pandemic,” said Mr. Ali Salem Afifa.
The 14th graduation batch compromised of student-athletes across 7 sporting disciplines, Athletics (14) Fencing (2), Football (26) as well as Referees (4), Gymnastics 1, Squash (1), Table-Tennis (1), Shooting (3). It is the highest number of student-athletes to graduate since the first batch in 2008. Mr. Badr Al Hay told the graduates on such a day they have to forget all the hardships that may have passed and celebrate the joy of the ceremony, “ We are tremendously proud to see you embark on the next chapter in your lives, and know that the qualities of true champions that you learnt during your time with us will serve you well and we look forward to you joining the ever growing list of some of Qatar’s top and fast rising sportsmen and Aspire Academy graduates like Mutaz Essa Barshim, Ashraf El-Seify, Abdulla Al-Tamimi, Abdelkarim Hassan, Akram Afif, Almoez Ali Abdalla and Abubaker Haydar Abdalla, Owaab Barrow, Bassem Hemeida, Ali Turki and Mohamed Adbulwahab to mention but a few.
We faced some challenges along the way, so we struggled and came out stronger than before. Henry Ford wisely said: “Synergy is the beginning; keeping each other is progress and working together is success.” When we look back at the past period, we see how all good stories begin. We have all reached a common goal - to encourage and develop on-going learning in young people - and now we see the fruitful results of this whole year in front of our eyes.”
Among this year’s graduates is Al Sadd FC and Qatar U-23 Olympic Team upcoming goalkeeper, Youssef Abdullah Balideh. Speaking about Aspire Academy, graduating student-athlete, Youssef Abdullah Balideh said: “I wouldn’t have been the athlete I am today if it weren’t for Aspire Academy, and for that I’m eternally grateful. The Academy plays an important role in the development of youth talents in Qatar who aspire to be the best in their chosen field.”
Haitham Oussama Abbassi another student-athlete who graduated is a youthful football referee whose career is fast rising. Abbasi is one of the referees who were developed during his time at Aspire by Qatar Football Association Refereeing department and was assigned to officiate a range of matches from (U13 right through to second division Qatar Gas League). He was trained in video technology VAR and was assigned to officiate matches as a VAR operator.
Speaking after the graduation ceremony Abbassi said, “There is not enough words one can use to describe the value and importance of Aspire Academy to the youth of this country, Qatar who want to develop a sporting career. Those of us privileged to have joined and study at Aspire will testify to how this great institution builds and prepares you for a disciplined and focused outlook to life. I am grateful for the way Aspire contributed to building my character and I learned how to be committed to my tasks, respect time and the importance of being disciplined in my work. These attributes will serve me well in my Refereeing career and in life in general and for that l am thankful to Aspire Academy,” said Haitham Oussama Abbassi.
Talal Yasser Al Ali represented Qatar in Arab Shooting Championship and Asian Shooting Championship while he was still a student-athlete at Aspire. In his graduating remarks the gifted shooter spoke about the great memories and lessons he will take with him from Aspire, “While studying at Aspire l had my confidence boasted and disciplined instilled in me. I can train hard, be persistent but patient with myself when l work towards my goals. I will always treasure the lessons and values Aspire taught me.”
Another graduate Faisal Abdulla Al Sowaidi reflected on how it was at Aspire Academy that he started and learnt about the sport of Fencing. “As l graduate l am happy but sad at the same time because Aspire Academy is home that means so much to me and l will miss this great institution. I will enroll at university for further studies and continue with my fencing career at the same time, l want to do the best l can and go as far as l can in fencing and the coaching and knowledge Aspire invested in me will assist me in the pursuit of my goals, said Faisal Abdulla Al Sowaidi.
Speaking on behalf of the graduating class of the 14th Batch, student athlete, Youssef Al-Ishaq said, “We lived for many nice years at Aspire academy and today we are getting the fruits of those years of hard work and excellent pursuit. Our journey at Aspire academy was one of the best and will live in our lives as the starting point of change in our personal lives. We passed through many challenging situations because of covid 19 pandemic, but thanks be to God and with the unlimited help and support of our Academy management, we succeed in getting through in the right way. I would like to thank all teachers, coaches and staff for their support and help they provide to us during our long stay at the academy. We promise them all that we will be the best ambassadors of the academy and to be their source of pride.”
The graduation marks yet another milestone for Aspire Academy an institution that is now recognized as the world’s leading sports academies in the development of young athletes, which it has achieved through a comprehensive curriculum focused on both academic and athletic achievement. Several of the young Academy leavers are now set to pursue their sporting careers and further studies at prestigious universities around the world over the next few years.