31 Jan 2024
Aspire Academy’s student-athletes have impressed their opponents during their 20-day football winter training camp in Antalya, Turkey.
As well as the regular coaching sessions, a total of 18 training matches were organised for the Aspire players to test themselves against foreign opponents from different football schools.
The opposition included the youth teams from two Turkish Super Lig clubs Antalyaspor and Alanyaspor as well as from a local football academy, Antalya DSI Spor.
Aspire also faced Kuwait’s under-15 and under-16 teams as well as squads from Russia’s FC Krasnodar while the under-18’s played an under-19 side from Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
Coaches from both Shakhtar and Krasnodar were impressed by what they saw from the Aspire Academy teams.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s under-19 Head Coach Oleksiy Belik admitted he did not know what to expect from Aspire Academy.
“We didn’t know very much about your team and I admit we did not expect that you would be such a strong team for a team two years younger than us,” he said.
“So I can only congratulate you that you have such an academy and such talented guys, who play technically well and with intelligence.”
“We knew that you have excellent infrastructure, excellent conditions to improve players, to develop them, and for them to join the ranks of the Qatar national team in the future.”
“I think that Qatar will soon be providing players not just for the domestic market but also for Europe and we will see more players from Qatar in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.”
The coach of Krasnodar’s under-15 team, Alexander Khromikov, echoed those thoughts.
“The Aspire team was quite organized and well-trained technically,” the coach said.
“(The matches) prove that you are doing serious work in your academy, and I think that if you continue like this, you will only get better and better.”
A total of 132 student-athletes across all age groups travelled to Antalya in early January for a three-week training camp.
They were joined by 97 support staff which included coaches, medical personnel and teachers, as the student-athletes continued their academic studies on the trip.
The three-week training camp also gave the student-athletes the chance to learn more about what is needed away from the pitch to develop into successful players.
Edorta Murua, the Technical Director of Aspire Academy's Football Department, says the longer training camps help the student-athletes understand new habits that they can put into practice in everyday life back home in Qatar.
Those habits include rest, nutrition and training and it is very important that the student-athletes share these with their families and get their support to ensure they are followed.
He pointed out that one key area the parents can really help with is rest as we can control much of the nutrition and training at the Academy.
The day-to-day training on the pitch is more demanding and more intense on training camps without the usual distractions they face at home.
It is not just the student-athletes who learn on these longer trips the teachers and coaches get to see them in different environments and observe their behaviour which means the staff are better equipped to help holistically.
On the pitch, the boys benefit from challenging themselves against opponents with different styles of play and football philosophies.
These kinds of matches give them experience, take them out of their comfort zone and push them to get the best out of themselves, which all make a huge difference in their development as players.