By Sports Reporter Doha
Three local sporting champions participated in a panel discussion yesterday on the theme: ‘So, do you want to be a champion?’. Organised by Aspire Academy, the panel included retired local basketball star, Yasseen Ismail, Olympic silver-medallist and Aspire Academy graduate, Mutaz Barshim, as well as former tennis player and prominent media personality, Mohamed Saadon al-Kuwari.
A large number of Aspire Academy’s student-athletes and Academy representatives attended the discussion, including senior officials, coaches and teaching staff such as, Deputy Director General, Ali Salem Afifa, Director of Education and Student Care, Badr al-Hay and School Principal, Jassim al-Jaber.
Organised as part of Aspire Academy’s efforts to elevate the learning experience of its student-athletes with inspirational speakers, the panel discussion focused on a variety of topics including: the role of sports in shaping players’ attitudes and leadership qualities, achieving the right balance between studying and training, and what is required intellectually and emotionally to achieve sporting success.
Commenting on the occasion, Jassim al-Jaber, school principal, quoted boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, who said: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision.”
He added that, “Aspire Academy provides its students with world-class facilities and expertise, but it’s the students’ responsibility to adopt the right attitudes and invest in hard work to achieve their goals.
“Aspire Academy wasn’t founded for the sole purpose of developing sporting talents, but to also produce well-rounded and educated individuals, equipped with the highest levels of athletic, academic and personal skills. That is also why the Academy strives to organise various panel discussions for our students.”
Speaking at the panel discussion, Yasseen Ismail, the former star player of Al Rayyan SC who led the national basketball team for over 20 years and has been dubbed one of the best basketball players in Qatar’s history, said: “Aspire Academy’s student-athletes are very fortunate to train within these state-of-the-art facilities and learn from the distinguished level of expertise provided for them. I urge them to take full advantage of the opportunities they encounter as these will help them reach their goals, should they work for them.”
Meanwhile, Aspire Academy’ graduate Mutaz Barshim, winner of the Athlete of the Year 2016 award for his silver-medal achievement at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and winner of the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, advised when asked about overcoming feelings of envy in sports, “It’s absolutely normal for athletes to feel slight envy towards their teammates’ achievements, because we all strive to be the best in what we do. What’s important is that we turn this negative feeling into a positive motivator that pushes us past our limits.”
Prominent sports media personality, Mohamed Saadon al -Kuwari, who was named Qatar’s U18 champion for his achievements as part of the national tennis team, said to the young athletes: “You must adopt a winning mentality, believe in your talents, always give it your best, and trust in God’s plans for you.”
Established in 2004, Aspire Academy has two primary aims. First, to identify and transform talented young athletes with real potential into world-renowned champions who represent Qatar in national teams across a wide range of sports. Its second primary aim is to promote a sports culture in Qatar and the region.
Aspire Academy aims to develop students holistically, providing individuals with a comprehensive academic, social and sporting education.
To support student-athletes in fulfilling their promise, there are five major departments at Aspire Academy that specifically look after their development: The Football Department, the Football Performance and Science Department, the Sports Department (non-football), the Sports Science Department, and the Education and Student Care Department.
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