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



    - More Than 500,000 African Children Have a Once in a Lifetime Chance to
    Study and Train at ASPIRE Academy

    DOHA, Qatar, April 19 /CNW/ - 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 Academy."
    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
footballers.
    This African quest will initially visit seven nations in Africa,
comprised of Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South
Africa.
    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 ART.
    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."

    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 physiotherapy. 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

    Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070419/253693

    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.





For further information:

For further information: Edward Barnfield, General Manager, WMC FZ -
LLC, P.O. Box 502281, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tel: +971-4-390-1950, Fax:
+971-4-367-2801, Mbl: +971-50-342-8240, Email: edward.barnfield@wallismc.com

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