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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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SOP, a valuable pool of sporting talent

Students’ participation in the Schools Olympic Programme has gone up, helping broaden the talent base in Qatar.
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Students take part in a training session at the start of the 2019 SOP at the Aspire Academy on Monday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The sight of 80 young footballers in the eight to 14 age-group kicking the ball into the goal or dribbling past the cones at the Aspire Academy indoor pitch was an indication of the success of the Schools Olympic Programme (SOP), organised by the Qatar School Sports Association.

The youngsters, from 11 schools in Qatar and registered with different football clubs in Doha, displayed their skills at the start of the 13th edition of the SOP on Monday. While the opening day was restricted to football, the SOP also includes 12 other sports and competitions in these disciplines will be conducted in the coming weeks.

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Jassim Rashid Al Beunain, QOC Secretary General, Mohammed Al Suwaidi, CEO, Aspire Zone Foundation and Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General, Aspire Academy, at the inauguration of the Schools Olympic Programme. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“The QOC has been collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to organise this event and it has been a big success. The SOP has been successful in contributing players to different sports disciplines and young footballers from different clubs are here. We’re proud of them and hope they’ll become better in the coming days,” said Jassim Rashid Al Beunain, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee.

“More than 300 schools took part in last year’s SOP and we expect more schools to turn up this year,” said Al Beunain at opening of the programme.

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A student takes part in a training session at the 2019 SOP at the Aspire Academy on Monday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Also present at the inauguration was Rabea Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Mohammed Al Suwaidi, CEO, Aspire Zone Foundation.

Wajdi Bossrsar, Director of Football Competitions, Qatar Football Association (QFA), oversaw the skills display by the young footballers. He said the annual SOP competitions have helped youngsters hone their skills.

“Our competitions are based on a league system and not the knockout format. It allows the children to play more matches. At the initial stage, the teams play three matches. When they progress to the final rounds, they play about 13 matches. The more they play the better they get,” said Bossrsar.

“Talent scouts from different clubs as well as the Aspire Academy attend these matches to make their picks. The high number of players who have turned up today indicates the success of the programme,” he added.