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ASPIRE Academy hosts Grand Finals of
"ASPIRE Football Dreams"

Third Edition of ASPIRE Program covers three continents

DOHA, Qatar, 12 February /PRNewswire/ — ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence in Doha, Qatar, hosted the Grand Finals of "ASPIRE Football Dreams", the world's largest-ever scouting program in football, from 17th January to 11th February 2010.

This third edition of "ASPIRE Football Dreams" added three new countries to the 12 which were represented last year. Young, talented boys, born between 1994 and 1996, from Thailand, Costa Rica and Guatemala joined those from Vietnam, Paraguay, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda to train with and play against each other.

A total of 38 boys enjoyed a month-long trial and condensed training program, including friendly games against ASPIRE football students and the youth teams of Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart. In addition, they benefited from ASPIRE's sports science facilities. These include hi-tech equipment, physical tests, fitness tests, scanning and medical treatments. They also took advantage of the leisure time program arranged for them by the Academy. The boys were accommodated in the Academy's boarding school dormitory, whose standard is that of a top class hotel. A healthy and balanced diet was also provided by the Academy's catering staff.

ASPIRE's football coaching staff worked hand-in-hand with the program's scouts and country coordinators, headed by Program Director Josep Colomer. The 38 selected boys trained and played under the watchful eyes of the coaching staff, who introduced them to the latest coaching methods and techniques.

A gala dinner was held on 8th February 2010, at which the 38 boys on the course were presented with certificates of achievement by Tariq Al-Naama, ASPIRE Acting Director General, and Serbian coach Bora Milutinović, ambassador of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid. The audience included the boys' parents and relatives, who had been specially invited by ASPIRE, as well as the ambassadors or chiefs of mission from the countries involved in the project. Also present was Ghana's Minister of Youth and Sports, Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, who brought with him the Under-20 World Cup trophy which his country won last October. The minister was accompanied by a member of the victorious Ghana side, John Benson, himself a former student at ASPIRE.

Following the end of this year's "ASPIRE Football Dreams" program, the Academy's football experts will nominate at least three of the boys to be granted full scholarship to the Academy. Those not nominated, and if willing to do so, will be sent to ASPIRE's football academy in Senegal.

This ASPIRE program started back in 2006, under the name of "ASPIRE Africa Football Dreams" and focused exclusively on the African continent. But, in the second edition, it was broadened to cover Vietnam in Asia, and Paraguay in Latin America.

In this year's third edition, the program spread its wings wider still, to add Thailand in Asia, and Costa Rica and Guatemala in Latin America, so covering, in-depth, 15 countries spread over three continents. In doing so, the program used the services of 7,000 volunteers, in combination with highly qualified professional coaches and scouts.

More than 600,000 young boys attended, between them playing around 35,000 games organized on more than 850 pitches spread throughout the 15 countries involved. Registration to take part was free, and was open to boys born between 1994 and 1996. An original birth certificate or original school registration was all that was required as proof of age.

Dr Andreas Bleicher, Executive Director International Affairs, ASPIRE said "Everyone in football is aware of the significant footballing talent that exists in developing countries and also of the challenges that can prevent this talent reaching its full potential. ASPIRE offers a new window of opportunity for those players who have the talent and dedication necessary to succeed at the highest levels of international football. To reach this objective, ASPIRE cooperates closely with the involved national football associations and supports the players in playing for their relevant national teams, and to also benefit their home countries from a sporting point of view."

Notes to Editors:

Created in 2004, the ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence in Doha has the dual aims of identifying and transforming promising student athletes into world-renowned champions across a wide range of sports and to act as a beacon to draw sporting culture into the centre of life in Qatar and the surrounding region.
The Academy is distinguished by a philosophy which aims to develop the student as a whole, providing them with full academic, social and sporting development.
Unrivalled facilities, housed in and around the world's largest purpose built indoor sports dome, ensure the Academy's reputation as one of the foremost sporting and educational institutions in the entire international community, enticing an ever-increasing number of visitors and users, from sporting legends to global political leaders.
Every aspect of the development of elite athletes is catered for by one indoor and seven outdoor football pitches, athletics tracks, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool, combat arenas, gymnastics arena, specially fitness weight rooms, lecture halls, dormitories to accommodate what will eventually become 1,000 students, a medical centre and many more facilities.
Launched in 2007, the ASPIRE Football Dreams project has annually tests over 600.000 young footballers from all over the world including Asia, South America and Africa, as part of the largest ever talent search within the sport.
The ASPIRE ACTIVE initiative is a community engagement program spread across the country, ensuring that thousands of the nation's residents have accessible and advanced health and fitness activities as routine aspects of their lives. Each social group is catered for by tailor-made classes and programs.