19 Dec 2023
GREAT LESSONS FOR BOTH ACADEMIES FOLLOWING FRIENDLY MATCHES
Doha, Qatar: The recently created Saudi sporting Academy, Mahd Sports Academy, visited Aspire Academy for a series of friendly matches for three age groups (under-13, under-14 and under-15).
The delegation from Mahd Academy, which used Aspire Academy as a reference and inspiration, was led by the academy’s President Mr. Abdulla Al-Hammad.
Mr. Abdulla Al-Hammad, a former scout within the football department at Aspire Academy, said this was just the start of what will be an ongoing relationship between the two academies.
“This visit to Aspire Academy, my second home as I am proud to be one of its previous employees, is just the kick-off of a long-term mutual exchange of visits between the two academies,” he said.
“We played a series of friendly matches this week, which gave us a great opportunity to learn from the Aspire Academy processes and their long experience of developing talented youth footballers.”
“Mahd Academy does not look at this kind of collaboration with Aspire Academy as a competition but as an opportunity for talent development that can pay off for both Saudi and Qatari football.”
Each age group played two matches with Aspire winning three of them, two were drawn while Mahd won one.
The visiting coaches, some of whom have also worked at Aspire Academy, were pleased with the chance for their players to test themselves against some from outside Saudi Arabia.
One of those back at Aspire was Eduard Graper, who is now Mahd’s Executive Director for Football, and he insisted that having such academies in the region will speed up the development of football in Asia.
“I have spent a long time in the region, and I don't see other similar academies as competition instead I see it as good for the whole region and good for the image of Saudi and Qatar and the Arab world in general,” he explained.
“I think the future of football lies more in the cognitive areas and developing more intelligent players.”
“In the last 15 years in training and in playing we have made a massive improvement in the physicality of the players with the performance departments.”
“We measure a lot of things, and we have a lot of data but what is happening in the brain is still not something familiar in football and I think that's where the future of football lies.”
“At Mahd Academy we would like to be known for developing intelligent players and we like to see our players be creative and take initiative and even to mistakes and grow from there.”
Edorta Murua, Technical Director of Aspire Academy’s Football Department, was delighted to welcome Mahd Academy and reunite with old colleagues.
“It is always good to test ourselves against teams from outside Qatar but a bit more special to play against teams from the region so we can measure our progress,” he said.
“Exciting to see players being developed in a similar environment to Aspire Academy. We are very proud that we are being seen as a role model for other academies, like Mahd.”
“Also nice to offer a warm welcome back to Aspire for some of our former colleagues and thrilled to see that some of the methods and strategies that they learnt during their time here.”
The coach of Mahd’s under-15 team, Ilie Lucian, was another former employee returning to Aspire Academy.
“We played two good but at the same time difficult games and we haven't played at this level before, so we are happy to be playing these kinds of games already, whatever the result,” he explained.
“We are here to see where we are at the moment as a young academy that only launched 3 years ago and that started from almost nothing to now scouting and developing our players.”
The visit from Mahd was the last overseas opposition for Aspire Academy’s football department for 2023.