Posted on June 14, 2017

On Wednesday evening, 14 June, Aspire Academy will celebrate the graduation of thirty-eight (38) student-athletes who will make up the next generation of Qatar’s sporting scene in sports including football, squash, athletics, gymnastics, table tennis, and fencing. The graduation ceremony will mark the end of the 2016/17 academic year.

The 2017 graduation ceremony will be held in the Aspire Dome in the presence of dignitaries, members of the Academy’s senior management and the parents of the student-athletes. The Guest of Honour at this year’s graduation ceremony will be Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham, President of Qatar University.

The event will also celebrate the fact that this year’s graduation ceremony marks a decade of Aspire Academy’s commitment to the development of local young talent and Qatar’s national teams. In that time, Aspire Academy has developed a long list of student athletes who have left a mark on sports at local, regional and international levels. Ever since it embarked on a path to become a global leader in sports and academic excellence by 2020, the Academy has sought to provide a comprehensive academic, social and sporting programme for its student-athletes. Their achievements are clear proof of Aspire Academy’s excellence.

Success stories from various sports

Mutaz Essa Barshim – High Jumper, 2009 Graduate

Mutaz Barshim is a Qatari track and field athlete who specialises in the high jump. He is the national and Asian record holder with a best jump of 2.43 m. He also won Qatar’s first-ever silver Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. His silver-medal win landed him the Athlete of the Year award at the Esquire Man in 2016. Barshim is currently maintaining the lead at the IAAF Diamond League 2017. Speaking about his time at the Academy, Barshim said: “Aspire Academy played a vital role in my sporting development. One of the biggest challenges an aspiring athlete faces is getting the right balance between school and training. Luckily for us, Aspire Academy’s organised learning approach has supported us in finding and maintaining that balance. After going through such a lot at the Academy, I still keep in touch with teachers, coaches and administrative staff. They have become a part of my family.”

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Fahad Ali Shnain Al Abdulrahman – Football player, 2014 Graduate

Fahad Al Abdulrahman Shnain plays as a left back for Belgian First Division A side KAS Eupen on loan from Al Sadd SC. The 22-year-old defender won second place in the ‘Le Lion Belge 2017’ awards for the best upcoming Arab players in the Belgian league. He has also represented the Qatar national football team on several occasions. Speaking about Aspire Academy, Al Abdulrahman said: “I wouldn’t have become the athlete I am today if it wasn’t for Aspire Academy, and for that I’m eternally grateful. The Academy plays an important role in the development of young talent in Qatar.”

Ashraf El-Seify – Hammer thrower, 2014 Graduate

Ashraf El-Seify is a Qatari hammer thrower. Among his greatest achievements are winning Gold at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships 2012 in Barcelona, Spain with a record-breaking throw of 85.57m, and then again at the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships 2014 in Eugene, USA. These wins made him the first athlete in the history of the World Junior Athletics Championships to successfully defend his title.

Speaking about the Academy, he said: “Balancing an academic and sporting career is not always easy but Aspire Academy allowed us to do that, with lessons via the internet or special classes with teachers. It's the perfect environment in every sense and you receive exactly the kind of support you need to be able to reach your full sporting and academic potential.”

Abubaker Haydar Hassan Abdalla – Middle-distance runner, 2015 Graduate

Abubaker Haydar Hassan Abdalla is fast becoming one of the most promising athletes in Qatar. In 2016, he finished the 800m race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha with the 7th best time of the year, meaning he qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Speaking about the Academy, Abdalla said: “My advice to my fellow classmates at Aspire Academy is to work hard but remember to reward yourselves from time to time. Aspire has positively affected my life and taught me how to balance my studies and sports. More importantly, Aspire Academy taught me persistence and self-reliance.”

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Akram Afif – Footballer, 2015 Graduate

Akram Afif is a Qatari football player who plays as a forward for Spanish club Villarreal CF and the Qatar national team. Afif was also part of the youth Qatari team that won the AFC U-19 Championship in 2014, scoring the winning goal in the final against DPR Korea. Afif became the first Qatari player to play in La Liga. Prior to Villarreal CF, Afif played for KAS Eupen, where his goals helped the team advance to the Belgian Pro League for the 2016-17 season. He is widely considered to be one of the most promising Qatari footballers.

Speaking about Aspire Academy, Afif said: “I am grateful for what Aspire Academy has done for me. To be the first Qatari to play in La Liga is a dream come true and I hope I can continue to hone my skills at Villarreal CF to achieve even greater results. I also hope to represent the Qatar national team ahead of the World Cup as an Aspire Academy graduate – that is my ultimate aim.”

Abdullah Al Tamimi – Squash player, 2012 Graduate

Abdulla Al-Tamimi is a professional Qatari squash player. He reached a career-high world ranking of World No. 36 in March 2017. He also won the ‘Outstanding Asian Junior Player of the Year’ award from the Asian Squash Federation (ASF) in 2013 for his remarkable performance.

Speaking about Aspire Academy, Al Tamimi said: “It‘s very important to me to maintain close ties to Aspire Academy because my six years there were some of the best years of my life. The sporting and academic education I received at Aspire Academy set the foundations for my achievements since. I am very proud to call myself an Academy graduate.”

Ahmed Bedir Magour – Javelin thrower, 2015 Graduate

Ahmed Bedir Magour bagged the second gold medal for Qatar in javelin throw at the 4th   Islamic Solidarity Games, which concluded in Baku, Azerbaijan, last month. As with Barshim and Abdalla, Magour made his Olympic debut at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, for which he qualified after another strong performance at the Hame Games in Finland.

Since opening its doors in 2004, Aspire Academy has become one of the foremost national sports academies in the world. Working as part of the Aspire Zone Foundation, Aspire Academy is at the heart of a sporting revolution currently taking place in Qatar and around the region. The Academy has sought to develop its student-athletes holistically, providing them with a comprehensive academic, social and sporting education, all with a view to realising its vision of becoming a leader in sports and academic excellence by 2020. Aspire Academy offers a unique educational setting in which curricula are designed around student capabilities and needs, with educational programmes designed to take account of time spent at training camps and championships.