Mahd Sports Academy reveals vision for the future on first anniversary of its launch

Mahd Sports Academy reveals vision for the future on first anniversary of its launch
The Mahd Sports Academy is a project focusing on the discovery and development of local Saudi talent within and outside the nation. (Mahd Sports Academy)
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Updated 10 October 2021

Mahd Sports Academy reveals vision for the future on first anniversary of its launch

Mahd Sports Academy reveals vision for the future on first anniversary of its launch
  • Leading figures from the Saudi Arabian center for excellence and innovation gave an update on the construction of the academy and their plans in the coming year

On the first anniversary of its launch, Riyadh’s Mahd Sports Academy has laid out its strategy over the coming years, as well as its achievements so far, in an online press conference broadcast on Saturday night.

“Mahd Academy is on a quest to develop young athletes, export knowledge and develop methodologies for young athletes, as well as achieve sporting success regionally and internationally.”

The video also highlighted the challenges that the academy faced in its first year due to the pandemic, and the progress that was made nonetheless during that period, hiring 1000 female and male trainers — in partnership with the Ministry of Education — to oversee programs to unearth the most talented athletes at elementary school level.

“We believe that sport is an effective tool to change cultures and the economy, and we’re deeply aware of the valuable of developmental impact of sports in communities around the world,” Mahd’s Vice President, Hashim Daghestani, said.

More than 10,000 athletes have registered with the academy through its online forum which was launched during the pandemic.

MoUs were signed with UEFA, France’s National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP), the French Football and Handball Federations and others. Meanwhile high-profile coaches have partnered with Mahd, including Roberto Mancini, coach of the Italian national team which won Euro 2020, and Roma coach Jose Mourinho.

Talking about Mahd’s Innovation Center, Ed Graper, Strategy Director at the academy, said:

“Imagine a place where athletes, scientists and innovators meet, a place where innovations are created and tested, and where the rubber really hits the road. A place that the world travels to for knowledge, for inspiration and for a community of like-minded people. Above all a place where we understand that every 1 percent of athletic development can make a big difference, and all our efforts will contribute to becoming the benchmark in sports innovations.”

Gerard Lenting, Technical Director for Athletics at Mahd, said the sports that will be focused on in the first stage of the academy’s journey are football, handball, martial arts and athletics.

“Saudi Arabia has a growing population of more than 34 million people,” he said. “To scout as much sporting talent as possible, we need to use different methods to find them. Try-outs is the first one, that’s a nice way to attract new talent and we will keep doing this. Secondly, we will organize our own competitions, sending our dedicated scouts to find the potential talent.”

He said Mahd would work with Ministry of Education to find talent at school level and with sporting federations around 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 pitches. Mahd’s main building will be completed in 2022; three more football fields will be added to the existing three; eight courts will cater for racket games and there will be an outdoor field 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 a swimming complex.

“Everything we do at Mahd is to aim to develop talent,” El-Enezi added.