The global football stars of tomorrow gathered under the spotlight at a prestigious gala dinner held in Doha as part of the Aspire 2014 Football Dreams project, the world’s largest scouting programme. Hand-picked from over 490,000 applicants across three continents, the elite group of 34 youngsters are amongst the most talented on the international stage.
All the protégés – aged 13 and 14 – received certificates and gifts including a signed football from Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez at Tuesday’s ceremony, presented by ambassadors and representatives of their country of origin.
Following the event, the athletes will resume daily training sessions at the Aspire Zone in Doha, where a further rigorous selection process will see the group whittled down to the final 20. This select band of players, to be revealed next week, will be offered the chance to train like professionals at Aspire Academy as part of the Aspire International squad.
Aspire Director General Ivan Bravo said, “Each year the Aspire Football Dreams project offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to thousands of young athletes across the world to fulfil their footballing potential. The 34 players currently with us in Doha have been chosen from more than 15 countries by our excellent global scouting network, and are some of the finest young footballing talents in the world today. It was a great pleasure to attend the gala dinner and I hope it gave those present an opportunity to celebrate their arrival in Doha and a potentially exciting future ahead.”
Now into its seventh edition, the Football Dreams project has enjoyed unprecedented success in recent times, vividly illustrated last week when the Aspire International team was crowned 2014 Al Kass International Cup champions, emerging victorious of some of the most famous Under-16 teams in the world including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City. Meanwhile, over the past year, many of the existing Aspire International squad members have had the chance to represent their national teams at youth level, with players from Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal all receiving international team call-ups in 2013.
These include Nigerian international Funsho Bamgboye, who was awarded Most Valuable Player at the Al Kass International Cup. He said, “The Football Dreams project is an unrivalled opportunity for all young footballers around the world like myself. Having come through the selection process personally, I really enjoyed the gala dinner and the chance to meet some of the new generation of stars that will be training with us here at the Aspire academies.”
As part of the three-week ‘boot camp’ selection process that the young footballers are currently undergoing, the players will come up against local teams based in Qatar and also compete in a friendly match against an u15 FC Barcelona team. Meanwhile vigorous daily training sessions and medical examinations will also ensure that only the players with the highest possible potential are accepted into the final squad.
Joseph Colomor, Aspire Football Dreams Director explained the selection process. “Our Football Dreams project is not just about the players that can win today,” he said. “At Aspire we want the players that are going to make it tomorrow. “During this three week period, we are not just looking at their performance on day one – the coaches want to see real evidence of their progress by the end of the three weeks. This entire project is about giving hard-working athletes the opportunities they deserve and, by next week, we will have the chance to make some people’s dreams come true,” he added.
One of the youngsters hoping to make an impression is Djibril Camara, a 13-year-old who was scouted last year in Conakry, the capital city of Guinea.
Djibril said, “All of us in Doha are so excited to be here at the Aspire Zone, using these amazing facilities and receiving such fantastic training. Getting through to the final 20 would mean the world to me and my family and I really hope that I can show my talents and impress the Aspire Academy coaches here in Qatar.”
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Thursday, January 30- 2014 @ 9:24 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.