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Underwater High: Turkey's Female Free...
Kas
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Kas, Turkey
September 29, 2014

As a child Sahika Ercumen had acute asthma. Her breathing difficulties were so bad that until age twelve she couldn’t do any physical activities and spent most of her time sat at home. Determined to confront her illness she went to her local swimming club and jumped into the water.

To everyone’s surprise Sahika was a natural swimmer. Like many young girls she had imagined life as a mermaid and her newfound love for water ultimately changed her life. “I felt I was diving in another world, in a dream world. It was so relaxing, so nice underwater. I hadn’t played sports until I was 12 years-old because of a sickness, so it was really a miracle for me.”

The swimming coach asked her to hold her breath and swim underwater. In her first attempt she out performed the club professionals and knew she wanted to dedicate her life to the sport. Through intense training, her physical strength improved, as did her immune system, until she was no longer affected by her asthma.

Sahika is now the leading female free diver with six world records including the women’s deepest return dive on a single breath – an astonishing 91 meters.

Sahika also now trains and mentors aspiring new freedivers in workshops in the Turkish coastal town of Kas.

Freediving is an extreme sport in which participants swim for long distances underwater to exceptional depths, or for long periods of time, on a single breath without the use of scuba gear. Unsurprisingly it requires great physical and mental strength as Sahika explains, “After 20-30 meters your lungs are the size of a football, as the pressure increases they get smaller and smaller. By 30-40 meters your lungs are like tennis balls… Your veins too are getting smaller and your heart rate drops. The blood circulation moves to only your heart, brain and vital organs – there’s a big change [to your body].”

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Qatar football school 13
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
29 Oct 2013

sprinting is important at a professional level so also important at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 11
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
28 Oct 2013

player concentrating during 2 against 2. The exercises are all meant to be game like so game skills are improved at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 9
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
28 Oct 2013

All dressed in red and in deep concentration at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 8
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
27 Oct 2013

heading is one of the most difficult skills in football and needs to be improved at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 12
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
25 Oct 2013

Young boy is looking concentrated at the ball at Evolution Soccer Qatar, Doha, Qatar. Evolution soccer is focusing on an innovative skills program which provides an opportunity for total involvement for each player.

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Qatar football school 5
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
23 Oct 2013

the training group is listening intensively to David Wallace, coach, at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school
Doha,Qatar
By Transterra Editor
23 Oct 2013

Grassroots development

While the world is busy discussing if World Cup 2022 should be taken away from Qatar or moved to the winter, people in Qatar is busy playing football. Fans are attending games in the Qatar stars league, children are training in clubs and grown ups are playing in amateur leagues. With still 8.5 or 8 years, depend on the decision by FIFA, there is enough time to improve the football culture in Qatar and remove all the negative expectations about 2022 World Cup.

Qatar is a country of only 2,042,444 (July 2013 est.) which includes only 15% Qataris. The rest is expats mainly from other Arabic countries, Philippines and Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan. With the future of Qatar, a future of expansion (4.19% growth rate), and thereby more foreigners, Qatar is multicultural and a view/analysis of the football culture needs to include expats.

One of FIFA’s central missions is the encouragement and development of football at grassroots and thereby also one of the reasons for giving the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. There are 2 major players in children and youth development in Qatar: Espire soccer academy and Evolution soccer. While Espire soccer academy is focusing on young players from across the world (they offer scholarships and trainings to the best talents from around the world) and the biggest Qatari talents, Evolution Soccer is focusing on the grassroots and young people living in Qatar.

Evolution Soccer was established in 2007 and is the country's biggest multi-sports course provider for children and young people aged 3 - 18 years old. The goal was to create a soccer coaching resource for the burgeoning population of both Qatari and expat players and coaches. Since then, Evolution Soccer has grown to become one of the most respected soccer academies in the Middle East growing from 350 kids in 2007 to over 1200 in 2013.

Tommy Westmoreland, manager of Evo Soccer Qatar, Evo soccer describes Evo soccer as the only real grassroots programme in Qatar and notes they have a strong relationship with Qatar Football Assocation (QFA) and Qatar Stars League (QSL) with spreading the word on the league (with 1200 kids plus parents they have access to more than is attending games during a normal weekend) and arrange trips to the big games with sometimes over 1000 supporters. With around 85% of the population is expats Evo Soccer is one of the main ways for the QFA and QSL to inform about the expats about the existence of the different clubs.

Our mission is to deliver top level soccer training and instruction with the objective of guiding players to attain their maximum potential in the game according to Tommy Westmoreland. 2 of their former players have attained such a high maximum level they have been signed by other clubs and professional programmes. Niall Mason, English, played for Evo Soccer between 2008 and 2011before joining Blackburn Rovers and he is now playing for Southampton’s Under 18 team. Omar Al-Emadi, Qatari, played for Evo Soccer during the first year before being signed for Aspire, the government talent programme, and is part of the golden generation which are hoped to excel at 2022 World Cup.

In 2016 Evo soccer will move to a new home with 2 x full size football pitches and 2
x indoor sports halls. Evo Soccer will then be able to take on more members and
improve the quality of the training. Tommy Westmoreland hopes that they will be
able to compete in local leagues in the future as is vital to the development of the
academy players. Currently they play with their Under 19 team (but with an average
age of 15) in the Qatar International Amateur League where they play with adult
teams.

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Qatar football school 7
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
22 Oct 2013

warm up between the ball exercies at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 6
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
22 Oct 2013

a cone for exercise at an artifical field at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 4
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
22 Oct 2013

Fashion is part of being a young player. Socks are matching the lines on the artifical field at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar.

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Qatar football school 2
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
22 Oct 2013

Boy joggling with the world at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Programs are presented through a dynamic and creative soccer training model where we encourage players to use their imagination and creativity while playing.

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Qatar football school 1
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
22 Oct 2013

The players are playinng passionability 2 against 2 at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 10
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
21 Oct 2013

99% of all exercises are made with a ball at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.

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Qatar football school 3
doha, qatar
By Ulrik Pedersen
20 Oct 2013

dribbling exercise at weekly training at evolution sports academy, Doha, Qatar. Copyright Ulrik Pedersen.