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: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070419/253693 )
"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.
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.
ASPIRE TODAY, INSPIRE TOMORROW