Qatar Airways, FC Barcelona and Aspire Academy hosted a friendly match at Miniestadi, Barcelona, between Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa team and FC Barcelona’s Infantil A Team.
The match, which was played in an energetic and sportsman-like spirit, represented a key milestone for the young players involved, especially those coming from Africa to Barcelona as they marked their first year in the Aspire Football Dreams programme.
This is the first time that Qatar Airways has partnered with Aspire Academy on this project to form the Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa team. The programme provides 15 young football players from developing countries across Africa with the opportunity to reach the heights of international football through training and development at their Academy located in Senegal.
Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Marwan Koleilat, said:
This match between the Qatar Airways and Aspire Academy Football Dreams Africa team and FC Barcelona Infantil A is more than just a football match, it is a celebration of the many months of hard work by all the players and staff involved in this programme. Through this programme young players across Africa are being given the opportunity to participate, develop and excel in a sport that they love, and possibly turn it into a full-time career – and Qatar Airways is delighted to be able to support this highly worthwhile initiative.’
The friendly match, which was part of the Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa Programme, was held at Miniestadi on Friday 22 May 2015, and both teams brought their best to the field, challenging each other during the energy packed match. Both sides fought hard, with victory ultimately coming to Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa team with a score of 4-0 thanks to goals from Nasry Daudi Azizi, Shafic Ssebyala, Isaac Nuhu and Ismael Stephane Quattara Dao.
Players from Infantil A played hard throughout the match and challenged the Football Dreams Africa team with five strong attempts on goal, which goal keeper Appiah Kubi skillfully blocked.
Director of Corporate Services, Aspire Academy, Ali Sultan Fakhroo, said:
We are delighted that Qatar Airways decided to partner up with us in this initiative and we are convinced that the experience for the boys that are travelling to Spain to compete against the youth team of FC Barcelona will be an extra motivation for them to put as much energy as possible into fulfilling their dreams of becoming professional football players.
For the 15 young players selected as members of the Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa final team, the match represented the culmination of many months of hard work and training.
During the team’s four day visit to Barcelona, they had an opportunity to train at the FC Barcelona sports centre, Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, tour Camp Nou Tour, and visit the FCB museum, La Masia, with the highlight being their friendly match at the famous Miniestadi, where most of the current FCB first team players honed their football skills during their time with the youth team.
In the build-up to this weekend, fans were able to participate and show their support by designing their own jersey for the Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa team in an online competition. Prizes for the winners include Business and Economy Class Qatar Airways’ tickets, 10 FC Barcelona jerseys, 10 FC Barcelona goodie bags, as well as double tickets for tours of the famous Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona.
The final team of 13-year-old boys who make up the Qatar Airways & Aspire Academy – Football Dreams Africa team, represent a broad number of countries across the African continent including Ghana, Gambia, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, Guinea and Senegal. Many of these boys have trained specifically for the Aspire Football Dreams annual try-outs in the hope of one day becoming professional footballers.
Launched in 2007, Aspire Football Dreams provides young football players from developing countries with the opportunity to reach the heights of international football through training and development at their Academy located in Senegal. Each year, the programme selects up to 20 13-year-old boys who attend the Academy where they train, compete, study, and learn to manage their lives and careers successfully. Having already tested four million football players, Aspire Football Dreams is the largest-ever talent search in football.
Qatar Airways supports multiple initiatives such as the Qatar Airways and Aspire Academy Football Dreams Africa team around the world as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 18 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 157 aircraft to more than 140 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.