31 Mar 2020

Doha, 31 March 2020. The nationwide closure of schools in Qatar due to the Corona-virus that came into effect on March 10 did not stop our student-athletes, coaches or teachers to pursue their mission. In spite of COVID-19, Aspire Academy continues to develop champions in sports and life – even if this has to happen remotely.

Distance learning is nothing new to Aspire Academy’s student-athletes, because due to competitions or training camps abroad, most of them had already used this way of staying up to date with their classroom activities even when they were not in Doha.

“In order to preserve the safety of our students, Aspire Academy and the school’s administration decided to introduce the remote learning protocol. The main objective of remote learning is to follow up with our students and to provide high quality education. The tasks given to students will be the basis for their assessment and the criteria for their transition from one grade to another,” says Vice Prinicpal Issa AlMoslemani.

“We, the teachers of Aspire Academy, have prepared everything on the online system that we have on Blackboard. We uploaded all the tasks and all the material that the students need to continue their school education from home. We also use Blackboard Collaborate to meet with the students in online classes,” explains Bassem Kashour, Aspire Academy’s Science Coordinator.

As the student-athletes’ continue their high school education, they also keep up their training routines. They receive training programs from their specific coaches and communicate with them on a daily basis to be able to keep developing their skills even if they are not physically at the Academy. Thereby, the support of digital media plays and important role.  

“For each team, we have a WhatsApp group and we send video exercises through these groups. They get videos of full training sessions for strength and conditioning and so they are able to do the exercises at home by themselves, they can monitor themselves and perform 30 to 90 minutes of exercises,” explains Emmanuel Lopez, Head of Football S&C.

“We have created a schedule with all the exercises and we deliver the videos at the exact times – at 12pm the Aspire players have to be ready to start the session.  At the end of each session, we receive their feedback. They send us pictures, they send us videos, tell us about their sessions and this contact is very important for us. And, of course, if they need some tips or feedback, or more specific instructions for certain exercises, our S&C coaches are always available for them.” 

Ivica Jakeljic, Senior Coach Throws at Aspire Academy, stresses the importance to keep up routines and tells about his way of staying connected with his athletes. “Let’s take student-athlete Mohammed Harfouche as an example. I usually send him his training program in the morning. He sends me back videos of his training and after reviewing it, I call him and give him my comments and advise for what he has been doing. At times like this it is very important to stay in touch with them and sticking to their training schedule definitely helps them in this situation.”

Other coaches, such as Peter Karlsson, Table Tennis Head Coach, see the current situation also as a chance for student-athletes to reflect more on themselves and take the time to develop self-awareness. “We have given the players some tasks. The first one is to choose a world class player with a similar playing style and personality as themselves. The main purpose is that they can implement some things from their role models into their game. If I was in their position I would choose a young Japanese player called Tomokazu Harimoto. He is a very active player, a very emotional player with a style that is similar to our players. I am very confident that our players are going to come back with more knowledge, more self-awareness and a lot motivation.”

The work goes on at Aspire Academy as student-athletes, coaches, teachers and the rest of the staff are trying to make the best of this situation by staying connected from home. So when the crisis is over and it’s time to go back, they will be ready.

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