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Winners of World’s Largest Talent Search spotted
Evaristo | 28 Jan 2008

Twenty-three young football players from Africa have emerged as champions of the entire continent after beating 430,000 other competitors for a chance to train at ASPIRE Academy in Qatar. Boys from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senega

Twenty-three young football players from Africa have emerged as champions of the entire continent after beating 430,000 other competitors for a chance to train at ASPIRE Academy in Qatar.
 
 Boys from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senega
Twenty-three young football players from Africa have emerged as champions of the entire continent after beating 430,000 other competitors for a chance to train at ASPIRE Academy in Qatar.
 
Boys from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa were selected as the project’s best players in the ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams project after participating in a range of trials in their home countries, before arriving in Qatar for the final rounds of selection.
 
Successful players from the trials at the Academy will receive the full benefits and opportunities available to ASPIRE student athletes. The boys will live, study, train and develop their skills within the Academy and be provided with every possible benefit they will need to forge a career in professional football.
 
The project travelled to all seven nations to conduct football trials for young players. Such is the overwhelming interest in football within Africa – and the life-changing potential a professional sporting career can offer young people – that the project attracted huge crowds at every stage of the event.
 
The first year of ASPIRE Africa was a huge undertaking, involving significant logistical and sporting effort. Altogether, the project organized 26,000 games of football on 700 different fields in Africa, supported by a network of 6,000 sports and development professionals.
 
ASPIRE’s Project Manager, Josep Colomer, said: “ASPIRE Africa. Football Dreams has captured international public attention and generated a huge amount of goodwill within Africa. The quality of the 24 boys who made the final stages was very impressive, and we’re confident that the infrastructure we have put in place will provide significant benefits for football in Africa.”
 
“The standard of the ASPIRE Africa team is phenomenal. We have hosted matches against the youth squads of some of the biggest teams in the world and have had to play the boys against older opposition to provide a balanced competition.”
 
While in Doha, the 24 finalists have played in a series of international matches against high caliber opposition, including Real Madrid and the German national youth team. Among the highlights was a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Portuguese giants FC Porto.
 
ASPIRE Africa was built upon a partnership between ASPIRE Academy, BSM (Bonus Sports Marketing) and Nike. It was supported by the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace, the sports and education ministries in the respective countries and their football federations.
 
The programme will restart in February 2008 for a new year, testing the potential of young football players born in 1995. With a full sporting infrastructure in place and strong relationships with the Federations within each African nation, ASPIRE believes it will continue to grow and develop.
 
Dr Andreas Bleicher, Sports Director at ASPIRE said: “The program has generated strong support across Africa because it provides a responsible path to development and education, supported by a proven sporting philosophy. We will help these boys develop at an early stage in their careers and we are certain that they will go on to play a larger role in African and world soccer.
 
“With the Africa Cup of Nations currently taking place in Ghana, the discovery of a new generation of talented young players is seen as an optimistic sign for the future, as well as the beginning of a growing partnership between sports authorities in Qatar and the African nations.”
 
ASPIRE Facts
 
ASPIRE is a unique and innovative sports and educational academy
 
ASPIRE is home to the largest dome in the world set in more than 290,000 square meters
 
ASPIRE includes seven state-of-the-art sports science laboratories specializing in high altitude work, movement analysis, power analysis, physiological attributes, sports equipment, mechanical and electronic works as well as fitness halls, physiotherapy and medical centers
 
ASPIRE has more than 20 classrooms for subjects ranging from English language classes to biology and physics
 
ASPIRE has eight full-size football pitches including an international standard artificial grass indoor football pitch
 
ASPIRE has an enviable list of sporting facilities including a 200m athletics track, an Olympic sized swimming and diving pool, a gymnastics hall, sports games hall, table-tennis courts, fencing strips, squash courts, a goal-keeper training area, fitness suites and tennis courts.