Aspire Zone’s outdoor football pitches have witnessed an influx of local, regional and international football fans this week as hundreds of keen spectators have shown up to watch FC Bayern Munich’s training sessions, as the German Bundesliga giants began their seventh annual winter training camp in Doha.
Running until 11 January, FC Bayern Munich’s winter training camp aims to prepare the team for the second half of the Bundesliga season, as well as its upcoming matches in Europe’s premier tournament, the UEFA Champions League.
The team’s winter training camp this year is led by internationally acclaimed Italian coach, Carlo Ancelotti, and comprises some of the biggest footballing icons in the history of the game. These include FIFA World Cup 2014 winners, Philip Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, along with Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Xabi Alonso, and Arturo Vidal.
Mohammed Al Dumaikhi, President of the FC Bayern Munich Fans Association in Kuwait, said:
Being able to watch FC Bayern Munich’s players up-close during training is a great opportunity for fans and one that is much more enjoyable than seeing them from afar during matches.’
When one of the world’s greatest football clubs such as Bayern Munich chooses Aspire Zone as its preferred destination to train for the seventh consecutive year, that is an indicator of Aspire Zone’s world-class capabilities. It truly is one of the best sporting destinations in the world and you can see why the world’s top teams come back year after year.’
Abdullah Dashti, Founder of the association added:
When you compare Aspire Zone to similar facilities I’ve seen throughout my years of travel, I can honestly say Aspire Zone is definitely on way above par compared to its European counterparts, and the Aspire Dome and Aspetar can truly be seen as beacons of excellence. The comprehensive sporting services, facilities, and programmes Aspire offers can easily compete with the world’s most established sporting organisations in hugely developed footballing countries such as Spain, Italy and England. That’s why the Dome and pitches continue to attract the world’s best teams every year.’
The stands were also filled with excitement and joy from local community members, including two young Qatari fans, Ahmad and Yousef Eisa Ahmed, aged 19 and 14 respectively. Yousef Ahmed said:
I have been attending Bayern Munich’s training sessions in Aspire Zone since I was nine years old. We’re thankful to Aspire Zone for providing us with the opportunity to meet our favourite football stars.’
His big brother, Ahmed, said:
As a fan of Real Madrid as well, I think Ancelotti is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m delighted to have met him in person.’
The training sessions also attracted international tourists who are in town to soak up some winter sun. Yesterday’s session was attended by family of Dutch tourists who are spending their winter break in Doha and they made a special stop at Aspire Zone to enjoy watching Bayern’s stars train. 16 year-old son Jasper Bultman, expressed his excitement at being able to watch his favourite Dutch player, Arjen Robben, while in Doha. His father commented:
We’re very impressed with Aspire Zone, it’s a green oasis in the middle of a desert. There’s a delightful atmosphere here and everyone we have met has been very inviting. Our children are huge football fans and they kept insisting on attending Bayern’s session to see Arjen Robben and even though today’s our last day we made sure to visit. It was well worth taking the time and we’re all thrilled to have been able to see them and get so close to them.’
In addition to FC Bayern Munich, Aspire Zone Foundation’s facilities have attracted many other internationally acclaimed sporting teams including the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Zenit Saint Petersburg, KAS Eupen, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, and Cultural Deportiva. Because Aspire Zone and its affiliated organisations can provide an integrated set of world-class sporting and medical services available to players all in one place, it makes it the ideal environment for training, particularly during winter, and is the reason Aspire sees teams return year after year.