2018 Flash Back
30 December 2018 – Doha, Qatar:
Ambition and innovation have been key features of Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) since it first set out its vision to become the reference in sports excellence worldwide by 2020. This defines its unique identity and place in the international sports community as it marked in early 2018 a decade of sports excellence since it was established in 2008.
Throughout 2018, AZF has set new definitions to the international sports industry in a way that exceeds the traditional boundaries. Aspire Zone has now become one of the top destinations for international experts who seek to know more about how to improve sports performance by nurturing champions and enhancing their skills, how to host events to the highest international standards, and how to provide world-class medical services to elite athletes and contributing to the development of the sports.
365 days of changing the face of the industry
Over the past 365 days, Aspire Zone Foundation and its member organisations (MOs) - Aspire Academy, Aspetar and Aspire Logistics - developed a unique collaborative approach to realise its remarkable mission by following the path of innovation and creativity. While AZF bids farewell to another successful year, it shares the key details about its pioneering sustainable projects, performance and achievements with partners, sports industry decision-makers, community leaders and society at large.
Distinguished Organisation in Supporting Sport and Organizing Social Sport Programmes award
AZF has been a year-full of awards and international accreditations crowned by receiving the ‘Distinguished Organisation in Supporting Sport and Organizing Social Sport Programmes’ award from HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani, the President of Qatar Olympic Committee, a mark of honour for all AZF employees. Meanwhile, the choice of Aspire Zone to host the grand finale of Al-Adaam Flag Relay during Qatar’s National Day celebrations underpinned the fact that AZF is the heartbeat of sports in Qatar and the springboard of young athletes to become international champions.
Awards and accreditations endorsing Doha’s position as an international sports’ hub
The past twelve months have seen AZF’s MOs receive a number of international awards namely: the 6th Sheikh Fahad Hiroshima-Asia Sports Medicine and Science to Aspetar; the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) recognition to AZF on the sustainable construction practices of Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor city; and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)’s Irving Glick award to Aspetar medical team.
AZF’s MOs have received remarkable international accreditations as well, most prominently the Diamond Level accreditation status by Accreditation Canada to Aspetar; the Patient Safety Friendly Hospital Level III Accreditation from the World Health Organisation Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean in partnership with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health to Aspetar; the renewal of the College of American Pathologists accreditation to Aspetar’s Laboratory.
Tangible steps on the path of sustainable development to turn Doha into a regional hub for sports businesses
In October, AZF partnered with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) to pave the way for two organisations to establish ‘Qatar’s Sports Business District’ (QSBD). The new national project aims to create the premier sports business cluster in Qatar and the Middle East that will witness collaboration on numerous initiatives aimed at developing and promoting this industry.
The goal of the project is to attract large sports-related multinationals, promote the setup of sustainable businesses and startups and facilitate the commercialisation of sports-related products and services by offering unique incentives and service packages, another example of AZF’s significant contribution to help diversify Qatar’s economy and transform the country into a favourable business destination for multiple sports related industries.
Aspire Academy's student-athletes and graduates make history
2018 saw another successful year for Aspire Academy's student-athletes and graduates who had their names etched in golden letters.
In football, Qatar national U-23 team, made up of almost all Aspire Academy graduates, earned third place in the AFC U-23 Championship which was held in China. Meanwhile, Qatar U-19 team, made up of Aspire Academy graduates, qualified for the FIFA U-20 Football World Cup to be held in Poland.
The incredible performance of Aspire Academy graduates continued in 2018, with Qatar’s star Abdelkarim Hassan wining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s footballer of the year award, and Akram Afif third-top scorer in Asia.
In athletics, Aspire Academy student-athlete Owaab Barrow won gold in the 110 metre hurdles at the 2018 "Youth Olympic Games" in Buenos Aires, while Baseem Hemeida won a silver medal in the Men’s 400m hurdles at the 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championship in Finland.
In March 2018, Noah Abdelkader, Aspire Academy graduate, qualified for IAAF World U20 Championships, after achieving a Jump of 2.20 M, earning first place in high jump in Slovakia. The same month saw the Qatari star jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim winning silver at the World Indoor Championships.
In Asia, Aspire Academy's student-athletes produced brilliant performance at the 2018 Asian Junior Athletics Championships, wining 6 medals and helping Qatar to place third. Regionally, Aspire Academy student athletes brought home a total of seven (7) medals after their impressive performance at 18th Arab Junior Athletics Championships held in Amman, Jordan.
In Squash, Qatar's Abdullah al Tamimi, Aspire Academy graduate, continued his impressive performance and improved his international ranking position after he had qualified for the semi-finals of the Canadian Open Squash Open Championship in Toronto by defeating 1-seed and the world no. 10 player. In addition, in July, Al Tamimi clinched the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour Malaysian Open title.
A key partner in the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™
Aspire Zone's involvement in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ preparations didn’t end with the renovation of the Khalifa International Stadium, which became the first stadium ready for 2022 World Cup. It continued its efforts by delivering Al Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor City to the highest community and future standards, making it an iconic world cup stadium with unique architecture.
Remarkable presence at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™
In Russia 2018, Aspire Zone Foundation was among other Qatari partners which played key roles in the success of Majlis Qatar organized by the supreme committee for delivery and legacy. Resembling Bayt Al Sha’ar’s Al Khor stadium design, Majlis Qatar was visited by His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, and several sport world dignitaries.
Aspetar’s expertise at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™
FIFA selected Dr. Celeste Geertsema, Sports Medicine Physician at Aspetar, to be a FIFA Venue Medical Officer for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ for one month. Dr. Geertsema provided medical care for the FIFA delegation and oversaw the medical and doping control processes, making her the first-ever female FIFA Venue Medical Officer at a FIFA World Cup™.
In addition, candidate official referees at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ completed a screening session at Aspetar in advance of the tournament, thanks to Aspetar’s position as one of only 41 FIFA-accredited medical centres worldwide.
Finally, the Tunisian national football team also benefited from Aspetar’s comprehensive medical services in preparation for the tournament, training, resting and recuperating alongside players from a number of other national teams participating in the event, including Iceland.
Aspetar supports the International Olympic Committee in Pyongyang
Away from football, Aspetar further enhanced its reputation by sending a medical team of its best sports medicine doctors to support the International Olympic Committee at the Winter Olympics. This role included keeping athletes healthy during the 23rd Winter Festival, which took place in Pyongyang in South Korea in February.
85,000 football fans in Khalifa International Stadium Fan Zone
More than 85,000 football fans in Qatar flocked to Khalifa International Stadium Fan Zone to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. This Fan Zone in particular was popular with local fans thanks to its innovative location in a host venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™. This set-up and the raucous atmosphere generated by the fans attending helped to create an excited ambiance throughout the tournament.
AZF’s world-class facilities continue to attract elite teams and athletes
As during previous years, a number of world-class athletes returned to AZF during the northern hemisphere’s winter to benefit from Qatar’s perfect outdoor training weather at this time of year. With world-class facilities, a FIFA World Cup stadium, unrivalled training venues, and a 7-star hotel, the range of facilities and expertise on offer in once place is a constant attraction for teams from around the world.
In 2018 alone, AZF welcomed Germany’s Bayern Munich, the Tunisian national football team, Belgium’s KAS Eupen, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande, the Chelsea Foundation youth team, a number of regional football teams; and teams from other sports, including the U20French Rugby team, Spanish National Weightlifting Team, and Canadian Boxing team.
AZF expands its local and international network through new partnerships
In 2018, AZF and its MOs signed a range of partnerships and agreements. Highlights of this activity for Aspire Academy include: joining forces with Leeds United F.C. to analyse on-field performance; a partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation focused on elite performance and youth development; a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three international schools to organise a Model UN event (THIMUN) in February 2019; and a partnership with Indian Super League (ISL) club Delhi Dynamos FC, which has already seen 1,200 children attend try-outs to discover promising young footballers in India.
Aspire Zone, meanwhile, signed an MoU with the Texas Health – Dallas organization (THR) to create a joint Center of Excellence focused on research, training, performance and sports medicine in the United States.
Furthermore, AZF signed an MoU with the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) that will help AZF facilities adhere to the rigorous Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), while another agreement with Qatar Social Work Foundation will strengthen AZF’s community-focused initiatives.
Finally, AZF signed media cooperation agreements with the Al Jazeera Media Institute and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) to promote cooperation in various scientific projects.
New community and sporting events by AZF this year
As part of AZF's efforts to renew its sports-focused community programs this year, AZF presented a number of new programmes and events for sports enthusiasts. Most notably this list includes: the Aspire Lake Festival, "The Magical Journey", “Freestyle Aquatics at Aspire” for Disability Challengers, Summer and Winter Camps for children, and an exclusive week of Qatar National Day celebrations proved exceptionally popular with the local community.
In addition to laying on a number of unique events, Aspire Zone Foundation held several local and international tournaments that have now become key fixtures in the annual sporting calendar. Some of the most notable examples from this year included the Al Kass International Cup, the Aspire Embassies Futsal Tournament, Qatar National Sports Day, Aspire Torch Staircase Run, Professional Squash Association (PSA) Satellite Tournament, Ramadan Sports Festival, the “Splash and Dash” activities, Qatar's Strongest Man 2018, The Aspire International Kite Festival, Esrar race, the seventh edition of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Aspire Beach Volleyball Qatar Master 2018, and Aspire Academy’s immensely popular Tri-Series football tournament.
Championships hosted by AZF in Qatar
AZF continued its pivotal role in hosting a wide array of international sports tournaments. Notably this year, the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2018 and FINA Swimming World Cup 2018 at Hamad Aquatic Centre took place in front of roaring crowds.
Aspetar also played a key role in providing medical support for a number of championships, including the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2018 and the 2018 IAAF Diamond League Championship, in addition to supporting national teams and clubs at local and international competitions.
Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in 2018
AZF has also been active throughout the year in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), both alone and in cooperation with partners. The most prominent of these programmes during 2018 were a series of visits by AZF delegations to social and health institutions during Ramadan, the ‘Freestyle Aquatics at Aspire’ for Disability Challengers, ‘Pink Walk’ Breast Cancer Awareness event, and the “Donate Blood, Save Life” campaign.
Renowned Sport stars choose Aspetar for treatment and rehabilitation
Amongst the football stars who visited Aspetar this year were Tottenham’s Harry Winks and Moussa Dembele, Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti, the Ivory’s Wilfried Bony, AFC Bournemouth's Tyrone Deon Mings and others from various European leagues. In addition, a number of world champions in athletics, tennis and weightlifting benefited from the world-class sports medicine hospital’s services.
Aspire cemented its reputation as a destination for VIPs visiting Doha
Amongst numerous international delegations that took time out of their busy schedules to visit AZF were the African Football Confederation, Serbian Olympic Committee, and football association delegations from the Netherlands, France, Mauritius, Mongolia, Sultanate of Oman and Jordan.
This year, a fresh roster of legendary athletes also visited Aspire Academy, including: Mohamed Farah, Chris Thompson, Abdul Hakim and Hendrik Pfeiffer, who shared their experiences with Aspire Academy student-athletes. In addition, the Columbia University Football team and the President of Dutch club PEC Zwolle also paid the Academy a visit.
International and regional seminars & conferences
As part of its knowledge-sharing programme, AZF’s MOs organised several symposiums, conferences and training courses in 2018. Aspetar and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) successfully organising the 2nd AFC Sports Physiotherapy Course 2018. Aspetar also hosted the 8th World Radiography Day Symposium, and the monthly meeting of the Qatar Sports Club Council, as well as a series of lectures on oral health for athletes. Moreover, Aspire Academy also organised an advanced training course in cooperation with the University of Birmingham.
Aspire Winter Camp, an edutainment experience for children