Mahd Sports Academy unveils its vision for the future on the first anniversary of its launch
On the first anniversary of its launch, the Mahd Sports Academy in Riyadh outlined its strategy for the coming years, as well as its achievements so far, in an online press conference broadcast on Saturday evening.
“Mahd Academy is looking to develop young athletes, export knowledge and develop methodologies for young athletes, as well as achieve sporting successes regionally and internationally. “
The video also highlighted the challenges the academy faced in its first year as a result of the pandemic, and the progress that has nonetheless been made during that time, in hiring 1,000 female and male trainers – in partnership with the Ministry of Education – to oversee programs to discover the most talented athletes at the elementary school level.
“We believe that sport is an effective tool for changing cultures and the economy, and we are deeply aware of the value of the impact of sport on development in communities around the world,” said the vice president of Mahd, Hashim Daghestani.
More than 10,000 athletes have registered for the academy through its online forum which was launched during the pandemic.
Memoranda of understanding have been signed with UEFA, the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP), the French Football and Handball Federations and others. Meanwhile, top coaches have teamed up with Mahd, including Roberto Mancini, coach of the Italian national team that won Euro 2020, and Roma coach Jose Mourinho.
About the Mahd Innovation Center, Ed Graper, academy strategy director, said:
“Imagine a place where athletes, scientists and innovators meet, a place where innovations are created and tested, and where rubber really hits the road. A place where the world travels for knowledge, for inspiration and for a community of like-minded people. Especially a place where we understand that every 1% of sports development can make a big difference, and all our efforts will help to become the benchmark for sports innovations.
Gerard Lenting, technical director of athletics at Mahd, said the sports the first leg of the academy’s journey will focus on are soccer, handball, martial arts and track and field.
“Saudi Arabia has a growing population of over 34 million people,” he said. “To spot as many sports talent as possible, we have to use different methods to find them. Tryouts are the first, it’s a good way to attract new talent and we will continue to do so. Second, we will organize our own competitions, sending our dedicated scouts to find potential talent.
He said Mahd would work with the Education Ministry to find talent at the school level and with sports federations across the country.
Sultan El-Enezi, director of operations, said the academy will occupy an area of 122,000 square meters, which will include several buildings and grounds. Mahd’s main building will be completed in 2022; three additional football pitches will be added to the three existing ones; eight courts will host racquet games and there will be an outdoor court for team sports such as basketball, handball, volleyball and badminton.
There will also be two indoor halls, the first with six courts for basketball, volleyball and individual sports, and the second an aquatic complex.
“Everything we do at Mahd is about developing talent,” El-Enezi added.