During the glittering ceremony, which evoked emotions of rejoicing and reflection, over six years of studying and coaching was celebrated for the majority of the 29 teenage graduates. Director General of the Aspire Academy, Ivan Bravo, said:
It is truly a honour and joy to be here tonight recognising the outstanding achievement that graduation represents for the young individuals that arrived to the Academy as 12-year-old boys and leave today as bright, well prepared young men with a future full of possibilities. All of you here tonight has what it takes to become a champion in life, to lead by example for others and to act in a way that honours your parents and this country, which you will one day lead.’
Amongst the several hundred guests to applaud the boys as they were awarded their diplomas included senior figures from within the Qatari sporting establishment, Aspire Academy members of staff and the proud parents and family members of all graduates.
Those bidding farewell to the Academy this year included a mix of Qatar’s very best academic achievers and most promising athletes. With sprinters, squash players, table tennis champions and track and field stars amongst the class of ‘14, many of the young graduates will now be hoping to compete for Qatar at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
One graduate already established as a world-class athlete is 17-year-old Ashraf Amgad Mohamed Elseify, who last year set a new world record at the World Junior Championships with a hammer throw of 85.6m. Having joined the Academy four years ago, Ashraf had mixed feelings about his departure from the Doha institution. Ashraf said:
My time at Aspire Academy has taught me the importance of social ties, time management and teamwork. I know I have come a long way over the last few years and I will miss the Academy dearly. However, I am confident that I will be able to build on my experiences and achieve far greater things in the future.’
Others recognised at the graduation were a total of 21 young Academy footballers including talents who now play for youth teams at some of Europe’s most decorated clubs in Spain, France, Belgium and Austria. Of the several youngsters that make up this exciting group, one of those hoping to represent Qatar at the 2022 FIFA World Cup is 17-year-old Doha-born footballer Tamim Mohammed Issa Al Muhaza, currently a member of the Atlético Madrid youth team in Spain. Picking up his diploma at the ceremony, Tamim said:
I am overjoyed to stand here and have my hard work recognised. My five years at Aspire Academy has been incredibly beneficial to me. In that time, I have grown and improved as a person and as an athlete with the help of my coaches and teachers’ instructions. The Academy has offered me a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and for these, I could not be more grateful.’
Summing up the various achievements of all graduates in the ceremony’s closing speech was Aspire Zone Foundation Chief Executive Officer Khaled Abdulla Al Sulaiteen. He said:
It is with great delight that I congratulate all the young men here tonight on their progression from the Academy. During their many years at this institution, I am confident they will have benefited from our world-class teaching and training facilities that are on offer to all fortunate enough to study here. Their graduation is an immense achievement in itself, and I now look forward to watching the boys make the most of their opportunities in the years to come.’