WHEN it comes to youth development, competition is as important as training and coaching. Training may become monotonous, but playing in a tournament is always exciting. It’s only in a match situation, where the players perform under pressure, that you can assess how far they’ve been able to unleash the skills acquired through months of training and also make the right decisions.
Youth tournaments are also a great opportunity for players, coaches and officials to develop a lot of team bonding because they travel and stay together, thus spending extra time collectively outside of training and playing. It also gives them a chance to meet their counterparts from other countries and know about their culture and lifestyle.
No wonder, the annual Al Kass Under-17 International Cup, now in progress at the Aspire courts, has become hugely popular in a short time, with the teams wanting to come back year after year.
It’s now rated as one of the top youth tournaments in the world. Some players who’ve graced it have already progressed to the first teams of clubs like Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and others, underlining the level of talent on display.
Perhaps, the biggest beneficiaries of this tournament are ASPIRE Academy trainees who get an opportunity to compete against some of their best peers from elsewhere. The visiting youngsters also stand to benefit a lot as the organisers offer them a near-World Cup experience.
The tournament, organised by Al Dawri and Al Kass channels in association with Aspire Zone Foundation and Qatar Football Association, has contributed in a big way towards propelling Qatar to the forefront of sports excellence and leadership. It has inspired hundreds of youngsters in our country to pursue sports as a career and also promoted a healthy lifestyle.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers for their special gesture of arranging a friendly between the U-17 teams of Brazil’s Chapecoense club, whose almost entire first team members were killed in a plane crash in November, and Syrian Dreams, a squad made up of boys drawn from the refugee camps in the civil war-ravaged country.
Qatar has thus proved yet again that sports can be effectively used as a tool to bring the world together and lift the spirit of the downtrodden and those in distress.
I wish all success for this tournament which, I hope, will be an annual affair for years to come.