Aspire Academy’s elite goalkeeping summit came to a thrilling close on Sunday as participants took part in the ‘Battle of the Goalkeepers’ competition. The tournament marked the end of the three-day training camp, which saw some of the world’s most promising young goalkeepers put their newly acquired skill-sets to the test.
The finals saw Argentinian goalkeeper Axel Wilfredo Werner face off against Peter Fritz Pflug. Fritz Pflug, who plays for the FC Energie Cottbus in Germany, beat Werner in a close 5-3 shootout. The aspiring goalkeeper commented on his win, “This challenge brought together 20 of the top goalkeepers from around the world so I am very excited that I won first place. I want to thank Casillas and the Iker Casillas Foundation for this fantastic opportunity.”
A range of exciting prizes were on offer including a trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and tickets to the Champions League match later this season. “I am so proud of myself for securing the chance to go and watch the 2014 World Cup, live in Brazil. I will continue to work hard to improve my performance and will hopefully return to Qatar with the German national team,” Fritz Pflug added.
The elite football training summit was hosted by Aspire Academy in conjunction with the Iker Casillas Foundation. It brought together over 20 goalkeepers from around the world with players being hand-picked as potential representatives of their national teams for the FIFA 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. The talented shot-stoppers trained alongside representatives from Aspire Academy and the Aspire Football Dreams project. They underwent intensive technical and tactical goalkeeper training sessions in order to learn how to defend their posts through shot-stopping, one-on-one interception anticipation and aerial play. The youths also practiced counter-attack goalkeeping skills including build-up play and attack transitioning.
16-year-old Ryan Huddart from the United Kingdom is a goalkeeper for the Arsenal under-18 squad. Tipped for success, Huddart commented on the summit, “The Aspire facilities are unbelievable. I left the cold, wet weather in the UK to the sunshine of Qatar. The summit has been intense but the sessions have been really enjoyable. I have also had the chance to see what else is out there, and to meet other goalkeepers from around the world.”
As part of the summit, the goalkeepers were given the opportunity to talk to football legend Iker Casillas. Captain of Spain and Real Madrid, Casillas is the most-capped Spanish player of all time. Jeff Caldwell, a 17-year-old goalkeeper currently contracted to North Carolina Fusion in the United States was pleased to take part in the mentoring sessions. “It was fantastic being able to speak with Casillas. He is a legend and at any time, I was able to communicate with the people who inspire me; who have been there and done what I aspire to do, that is really something to value,” he said.
Caldwell continued, “The FIFA 2022 World Cup is what it is all about. Training hard every day and working towards representing your national side and becoming a professional player. I am absolutely committed to returning to Qatar in 2022.”
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