ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams - Largest Football Talent Search in History Launched in Qatar

Apr 19, 2007, 01:00 ET from ASPIRE

    DOHA, Qatar, April 19 /PRNewswire/ --
     - More Than 500,000 African Children Have a Once in a Lifetime Chance
 to Study and Train at ASPIRE Academy
     The ASPIRE Academy in Qatar today launched an ambitious programme that
 will provide talented African students from seven nations with a chance to
 study and train in one of the world's most advanced sports Academies.
     (Photo: )
     "ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams" was unveiled at a ceremony in Qatar
 today attended by legendary soccer star Pele.
     ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams is the largest football talent search
 project in history and when testing starts at the end of May, six thousand
 staff will screen more than 500,000 boys born in 1994 in seven different
 countries across 700 locations.
     In the first phase the best 50 players from each country, identified in
 the selection process, will go for a week of trials in the capital city of
 their respective nations.
     The top three from each country will then come to ASPIRE for four weeks
 of trials and testing. From here, following a period of assessment and
 discussions with the families, the most talented players will be enrolled
 into the ASPIRE Academy.
     Dr. Andreas Bleicher, Sports Director at ASPIRE said: "This is an
 incredible opportunity for talented young African boys to reach the heights
 of international football in the future, as well as for ASPIRE's football
 players to be inspired in their daily training programme by outstanding
 international talents. This is a huge boost especially for the Qatari
 football talents as well.
     "Everyone in football is aware of the significant talent that exists in
 Africa, and also of the challenges that can prevent this talent reaching
 its full potential. ASPIRE will offer a new window of opportunity for those
 players who have the talent and dedication necessary to succeed at the
 highest levels of professional football."
     Through ASPIRE's scholarships, opportunities to study at the Academy
 have already been extended to talented students from countries as diverse
 as Ghana, Senegal, Comoros and Cameroon.
     ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams is designed to take this process to the
 next level, according to Dr. Thomas Flock, Director General of ASPIRE:
 "This programme will become a recognised path to development for young
 African footballers. The youth football programme offered here is among the
 most advanced in the world, and successful applicants will have the chance
 to earn a place in the ASPIRE teams, receiving exposure to the
 international standards of talent and application we expect at the
     Each successful player will receive the full benefits and opportunities
 available as an ASPIRE student. They will live within the Academy, training
 and developing their skills, with the potential to grow into professional
     This African quest will initially visit seven nations in Africa,
 comprised of Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South
     The project is endorsed and supported by the United Nations Office of
 Sport for Development and Peace. It is carried out in partnership with
 Bonus Sport Marketing (BSM), a recognised international football events
 company from Spain.
     ASPIRE Africa is an annual programme, with plans in place to extend the
 number of countries involved over the forthcoming years.
     To add to the impact of the programme, and to stimulate greater
 interest across the widest possible territory, the programme will be the
 subject of a special documentary broadcast by satellite television channel
     Organisers and ASPIRE students were thrilled when the launch ceremony
 received a special guest in the form of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, best
 known by his nickname Pele, who was in Qatar on a private visit.
     Pele, FIFA Footballer of the Century and International Olympic
 Committee Athlete of the Century, said: "Investment in sports and talent
 development are vital for the health of world sport and Qatar has made a
 very important contribution through developing this programme. ASPIRE has
 grown significantly since my first visit here in 2005 and it is very
 exciting to see that it continues to develop through innovative programmes
 like ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams."
     Photo caption: Pele, FIFA Footballer of the Century, at the launch of
 ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams, which will test over 500,000 young African
 football players and offer them the chance of a place at the ASPIRE Academy
 for Sports Excellence, Doha.
     About ASPIRE
     ASPIRE, the Academy for Sports Excellence, is an elite facility that
 aims to identify, educate and train talented athletes to compete in
 professional sports at the highest levels. ASPIRE provides an exceptional
 learning environment, including full educational and recreational
 facilities, advanced dormitories, an amphitheatre, lecture halls, seven
 outdoor football training fields, and state-of-the-art weight rooms and
     The Academy is distinguished by a philosophy which aims to develop the
 whole student, providing them with full academic and sports development so
 that they have the widest possible range of opportunities in adult life.