The world’s top sport talent spotters gathered in Doha on Wednesday as part of a two-day conference held at Aspire – Academy to explore the most effective methods of identifying the next Usain Bolt or Lionel Messi.
Featuring internationally-respected sports researchers as speakers, the Aspire Talent Identification (TID) Conference has shone a light on the most effective techniques of uncovering the athletic champions of tomorrow.
In recent years, the focus on sport talent spotting has become a priority for many nations, with specialist programs set up around the world to identify potential athletes from an early age.
In Qatar, the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, most of the country’s talented youngsters in Football and other sports are spotted and developed through the acclaimed Aspire Academy Talent Identification Program.
As part of this nationwide initiative, Aspire scouts are sent out to 47 schools across Qatar each year, and can screen more than 3,000 Qatari children in an attempt to seek out the very best local athletes.
The best students selected as part of this process are then invited into Aspire Academy for further trials, before a final group of youngsters are offered a full scholarship to join.
Speaking at the TID Conference, Anthony Hazeldine, senior Talent Identification Officer – of Aspire Academy’s Talent Identification Program, said, “I believe the TID Conference has provided Aspire Academy with the perfect opportunity in which to showcase our Talent Identification Program to the world. In addition to this, we have highlighted the huge progress we have made in Qatar in recent years, in identifying our future sporting champions.”
“We are hopeful that Aspire can learn much from these internationally-respected experts and researchers about the methods and models applied in different countries,” he added.
Amongst the guests and speakers assembled at the conference on Wednesday included talent identification experts from the USA, the UK, Australia and Asia.
Dr Robert Malina, a former Professor at the University of Texas and the sports science community’s very own ‘Godfather of talent identification’, as he is affectionately known also attended the two-day event.
Giving the keynote speech, Dr Malina praised Aspire Academy for hosting the conference and said, “This event is a fantastic opportunity for some of the leading figures in talent identification to meet, collaborate and share ideas, as there is currently so much pressure on young athletes to perform at the very highest level for their clubs and countries.”
He continued, “The TID Conference can really encourage an open and meaningful discussion about the most effective and ethical methods of uncovering new talents and nurturing them throughout their sporting careers.”
With the event due to come to a close on Thursday, it is hoped that a consensus statement will be published after the conference, summarizing the most important ideas developed and shared during the two-day event.
Expressing his hopes that the TID Conference will aid the sporting community, Aspire Academy’s Director of Sport Science Professor Tim Cable, said, “Qatar and many other countries struggle with how best to discover their national sporting champions however, I am confident our findings can help more young athletes around the world fulfill their athletic potential.”
He continued, “On behalf of Aspire, I would like to thank all of our international speakers for making the journey to Qatar in order to participate in such an important event. In addition, I would like to extend my thanks to the organizing committee for their hard work and dedication in bringing this event into fruition.”