Qatar's talent show pays dividends
9 August ~ It's not often a Manchester United team is soundly beaten by relative unknowns. That was the case at the end of July, though, as their Under-17's lost 5-1 and were utterly dominated in the Milk Cup final. Their conquerors were Aspire Academy, Qatar's ambitious sporting development. The project was not without controversy when it was set up in 2008, as Tom Neale explored in WSC 253
While Africa’s finest footballers compete in Ghana, 23 13-year-old boys have won the chance to leave the continent behind. They are the winners of a mammoth and controversial talent search undertaken by the Aspire Academy. At the forefront of Qatar’s push for sporting success, the academy provides sporting and educational facilities with the aim of developing future world sporting champions. The centrepiece is the Dome, currently the world’s largest purpose-built indoor sports arena. Incorporated under the roof along with a vast array of sporting facilities is a full-size football pitch; there are an additional seven pitches outside, five of which are natural grass. Read the full article
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