Posted on July 06, 2017

FC Barcelona stars Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets visited Aspire Academy ahead of their scheduled panel discussion at the Mall of Qatar, which is jointly organised by the Academy and Mall of Qatar. 

As part of their visit, the players received a tour of Aspire Academy’s facilities and the latest technologies on offer, including a sneak peek of Aspire Academy’s new building, which is still under construction. Spain’s star defender Gerard Pique praised Aspire Academy, saying it is equipped with great facilities. When asked about his retirement plans from the national team, Pique said: “I have thought a lot about this decision and am happy I have made the right one. I’ll be 31 next year and I want to have a long career with my club, FC Barcelona. To do that, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and leaving the national team will give me more time to rest.”

Aspire Academy hosts FC 1 [].JPG

Speaking about Aspire-owned Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa’s promotion to Spain’s Second Division, Pique added: “I think this will be a great experience for the team. It’s also good for Aspire Academy because they will be able to send their players to Spain to help them prepare for the Qatar World Cup 2022.” When asked if he’d consider playing in the Qatar Stars League like former teammate Xavi Hernandez, Pique said: “Right now, I would like to finish my football career with Barcelona, but in football you never know. I cannot rule anything out completely.”

Meanwhile, Jordi Alba advised Aspire Academy’s student-athletes to soak up as much knowledge from their coaches as possible and to keep fighting to their level of football. Commenting on the development of sports in Qatar, Alba added: “The sports field in Qatar is growing steadily. Qatar has a lot of potential and people are expecting great things from it.”

Aspire Academy hosts FC 2 [].JPG

Speaking about Aspire Academy, Spain’s midfielder Sergio Busquets praised the spacious facilities and high-level of coaching, adding: “As a player, I’d personally enjoy using these facilities every day. Academies like Aspire provide a good foundation for young players to make it into professional leagues. In order to succeed in football, players have to remain committed and motivated. International exposure provides this and benefits young players, as demonstrated by the growth of Aspire Academy graduate and Sporting Gijon forward, AkramAfif.”

The players were welcomed to Aspire by senior officials from Aspire Academy, comprising Mr. Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General of Aspire Academy, Professor Valter Di Salvo, Director of Football Performance & Science, Mr. Markus Egger, Director of Sport and Strategy, Mr. Ali Sultan Fakhroo, Director of Corporate Services and Mr. Jassim Al Jaber, Aspire Academy’s School Principal.