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

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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 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."

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 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

SOURCE ASPIRE



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