Doha, Qatar: Aspire Academy held its 12th Graduation Ceremony on Tuesday to honour the latest batch of student-athletes. The ceremony marked another milestone in Aspire’s 15-year journey to develop young talent which forms the cornerstone of Qatar’s national teams and clubs.
A total of 41 student-athletes graduated in nine sport disciplines: athletics, fencing, football, soccer, squash, table tennis, archery, golf and gymnastics.
The ceremony was attended by senior representatives from Aspire Academy including Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General of Aspire Academy and Second Vice-President of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), and President of Qatar Athletics Association, HE Dr Thani bin Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, as well as a number of senior officials from Aspire Zone Foundation, teachers and coaches from the Academy.
Al Kuwari praised Aspire for its astonishing work.
“Every year, Aspire Academy astonishes us with all its sports. There is real creativity in the Academy’s output and the refinement of its champions. Aspire Academy graduates and athletes will participate at many international events, including at the IAAF World Championships Doha 2019 and I wish them tremendous success with the next steps," said Al Kuwari.
Afifa extolled the graduating students to continue to seek excellence in all they do in life after Aspire.
“You join many other distinguished graduates from this great institution and we would like you to remain focused, hardworking and model citizens that your families and country will be proud of. Maintain the values, sense of purpose and the excellence that you have learnt during your time at Aspire,” said Afifa.
The celebration started with Qur’an recitations by student-athlete Salem Jamaani followed by remarks from fellow graduating students, Abdulrahman Al-Dehaimi and Saleh Bashraheel, who summed up studying at Aspire on behalf of graduating students, saying: “we are pleased to be standing in front of you this evening to deliver this speech. We are here to recall moments with our beloved teachers and coaches. Over these last years, through dedication and hard work, we reached our goals and made unforgettable memories. Here at Aspire Academy, we learned how to aspire: how to work towards astonishing achievements, both on our academic path and in our chosen sports career. This is how we achieve our dreams.
In particular, I would like to send our dearest appreciation to our teachers and coaches. You have inspired and instilled in us the urge to learn, and my thanks also go to the school administration for their unceasing efforts in building us up. May Allah help us to remain faithful for Aspire Academy and to raise the Qatari flag up high in international championships.”
Following the remarks, the young champions rose to the podium to receive their graduation certificates. They represent a hard-earned award which followed six years of diligent work under the Academy’s expert teachers, coaches and staff, many of whom will continue to support their former pupils as they further develop both their academic and sporting careers in the future.
2018/2019 Class included graduates in the following disciplines: 14 in football, 10 in athletics, four in football refereeing, three in fencing, three in gymnastics, three in golf, three in squash, one each in table tennis and shooting.
The list of graduates includes some of the world, regional and local champions including Ahmad Al Haj: Discus thrower, first Place, the Asian Junior Athletics Championship, Bassem Hemeida: 400m hurdles, Silver Medal, IAAF World U20 Championship, Jabr Al Moamari: 200m hurdles, qualified for the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Finland and won the Arab Championship in 200m, Marzoq Al Haj: Shot put, ranking in the top 250 world athletes in youth category, Saleh Bashraheel: Long jump, third place in the Gulf Championship in Qatar in 2019, and Sixth place in Asia Championships in 2016 in Vietnam, Ali Al-Sulaiti: Fencing, gold and silver medals in the Arab and Gulf Championships in 2017, Muhammad Al-Jaber: Fencing, first place in the Arab Fencing Championship in 2016 in Jordan, Raslan Saoud: Gymnastics, three gold medals and five silver medals in Arab, Asian, and World Championships and Abdulaziz Al Hajaji: Table tennis, first place in the Qatar Championship and second place in the Arab Championship.
Commenting on the graduation, Badr Al Hay, Director of Education and Student Affairs at Aspire Academy said:
“Today, with immense pride, we reap the fruits of our planting. I refer here to Aspire Academy’s philosophy of bringing up generations of distinguished athletes who build on an educational foundation that modifies behaviour and builds a healthy personality to succeed, while considering the individual psychological, cognitive and skill-based needs of our students. To this end, we recruit staff with a high level of education and training, who can unleash the energies and abilities of our student-athletes and offer our society distinguished athletes. They are individuals who adopt the highest religious and moral values to preserve the structure of society and prevent the importation of destabilizing ideas.”
Meanwhile, Jassem Al-Jaber, School Principal at Aspire Academy, said: “Our eyes today look to the future. We are confident that our students will not let us down and will rise to life’s challenges. We have worked from the beginning to attain high achievement in education and sports in addition to nurturing the leadership skills of the student-athletes, who believe in God and belong to the homeland. Our dreams are great, and we work professionally to achieve them. We have plans, procedures and deadlines for every goal. We have a distinguished team, and I want to express my pride in your competence, patience and willingness.”
A remarkable year for Aspire
2019 is a year that Qatar will always remember. Not only does it mark the very first time in the history of the AFC Asian Cup that Qatar has won the tournament, but it is also the first time that the Qatar national football team has progressed beyond the quarter-finals in any AFC Asian Cup football tournament.
What makes Aspire Academy particularly proud is that 70 per cent of the national squad achieved their success after completing the football programme at Aspire Academy. Nine of its graduates played against Japan in the final. One of them, Almoez Ali, received two awards for the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and the top goal scorer. Fellow Aspire graduate Saad Al Sheeb was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper and Akram Afif achieved the most accurate passes throughout the tournament.
Prominent success stories across various sports include the likes of Mutaz Essa Barshim – high jumper, 2009 graduate; Ashraf El-Seify – hammer thrower, 2014 graduate; Ahmed Bedir Magour – javelin thrower, 2015 graduate; Fahad Ali Shanin Al Abdulrahman – footballer, 2014 graduate; and Abdullah Al Tamimi – Squash player, 2012 graduate.
This event reflects Aspire Academy’s eleven years of commitment to the development of young local talent and national teams in Qatar. Ever since it embarked on a path to become a global leader in sports and academic excellence by 2020, Aspire Academy has sought to provide a comprehensive academic, social and sporting programme for its student-athletes.