This week, on Wednesday and Thursday 15-16 March, Qatar’s world renowned Aspire Academy hosted the grueling final stage of the year-long assessment process that young Qatar residents eager to join the Academy’s ranks must undergo.
The “Gold Camp” represents the final stop in the Academy’s comprehensive talent scouting system and all the would-be athletes who reach it should be proud to have made it so far through such a challenging process, according to the Talent Identification Team at Aspire. The Camp ran over two days, giving participants a taste of what life will be like if they are chosen to join the Academy but also testing them on their academic and sporting potential.
130 eleven-year old applicants were invited to the Gold Camp this year out of an initial pool of 3,000, giving some idea of the level of competition at this stage in the process. Upon joining the Gold Camp, each participant’s prior performance is used to allocate them to their strongest sports section, such as squash, throwing, fencing, table tennis, gymnastics, athletics and multi-sports. At the end of the Camp, following a rigorous assessment process that follows would-be students throughout their training, the Academy chooses a select number of students to join its ranks on scholarships.
On Wednesday, Academy officials welcomed 100 hopefuls to the Aspire Dome, where they were congratulated for reaching this stage in such a competitive process and given a session to introduce them to the Academy’s facilities and the training programme they will be following. Another 30 potential students were put through their paces on Thursday 16th March. During the welcoming ceremony, the Academy shared inspirational stories about some of its most famous alumni, such as Olympic silver medalist Mutaz Barshim and squash champion Abdullah Al-Tamimi, and encouraged this year’s participants to make the most of the learning and development opportunities the Camp presents.
Aspire Academy Head of National Talent Identification, Andrew Douglas, said on day one (1) of this year’s Gold Camp: “We have double the number of students compared to this stage last year, which demonstrates the increased scale and rigor of our scouting operations. While it’s too early to say who will be offered places at the Academy, one thing for sure is that the standard of sporting ability is very high. I wish all participants the best of luck.” By its very nature, the Gold Camp helps Aspire Academy achieve its mission to identify promising sporting talent and develop young people into successful but educated Champions. By inspiring other young people to take-up sport, the Camps also help to foster a sports culture in Qatar.