From Doha, the state of Qatar, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Fouad El Fdil, long-time football coach at Aspire Academy and program mentor at QST. With five years in Doha under his belt, Fouad has extensive knowledge of the Qatari sports environment, its key organisations, and the technological advances made to push the players to the next level.
Fouad is originally from the city of Breda in the southwest of the Netherlands where he pursued his studies in sports and business management. His first work experience started with Adidas and lasted for two years. He continued his career working 12 years at the Royal Dutch Football Federation in three different roles: as an instructor, in coach education, and as a strategic policy advisor; “It was quite an interesting job for my personal and professional development,” explains Fouad when reminiscing on his previous occupations.
In 2012, Fouad got an opportunity to work in Qatar on a project leading up to the world cup 2022. After several interviews, he decided to quit his job and experience a new adventure in Qatar. After 5 exciting years in Doha, Fouad is now back in the Netherlands working as an international football consultant for several projects.
What Doha can offer young football players and athletes in general
Relying on his 5 years of work experience in Aspire Zone, Fouad was overwhelmed by the high quality of sports facilities and the excellent conditions offered to athletes no matter what sport they train.
No matter the kind of sports, Doha is always offering high-quality facilities and excellent conditions. This makes Qatar a unique place to bring athletes together:
‘’it is definitely one of the best locations in the world to work with athletes. This is due to the facilities and because of all the possibilities offered to players. A big part of this can be attributed to Aspire Zone where I worked for 5 and half years,”Fouad El Fdil
Life at Aspire Academy
According to Fouad, an interesting aspect of what the Aspire Academy offers to young football players is the balance between personal and physical development. The Academy supports young footballers with the best quality of education, healthy lifestyle and familiarizes them with the Aspire values to build a good image not only of a football player but also of a respectable citizen or resident, in addition to this, it helps them with the availability of technology services and the quality of facilities and they also benefit form the expertise and knowledge of the staff from more than 60 different countries working at Aspire Zone.
Speaking about technology at Aspire Academy, Fouad supports the idea that video analyzing is very beneficial for football coaches, it helps them in evaluating, monitoring and preparing the training sessions in both technical and tactical aspects, and it contributes to their main purpose which is developing football players, and improving the game since it is the ultimate tool to reach certain objectives.
The emerging SportsTech Vertical in Doha
When discussing the emergence of new technologies in sports, Fouad pinpointed cognitive tracking as an area of interest. How can we use our knowledge of the brain to track and improve the learning of young players? What can coaches and academy directors do with this information? How can additional data improve the vision, mission, and strategy on the field? Basically, Fouad wants to figure out how cognitive tracking can improve the games and improve the lives of the players.
”I would like to get more specifics on the individual players and on the game. What kind of information are you searching as a coach or as an academy director? I would like to challenge developers to make the football game leading in the development of new technology and innovation. The practical situation should lead to technology and innovation and not the other way around,’’Fouad El Fdil
By the end of the interview, we asked Fouad if he had any advice to give to entrepreneurs starting out in the field of SportsTech:
‘’I think it is important to work together with the people working on the pitch. I say pitch, but what I mean is the practical situation. It can be indoor or outdoor people who know what is happening. I take football as an example. Talk with coaches, assistant coaches, you will get valuable inputs. If you ask the right questions, it will give you valuable inputs in developing new technologies. Make sure that you gain these inputs. That you ask for feedback regularly and that you work together with these people. Then it will lead to innovation, new technologies, and new concepts. The main objective, of course, is to improve athletes and improve the game’’.Fouad El Fdil
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