Saudi Arabia has approved the creation of a sports academy designed to discover and develop talented youth.
The Mahd Sports Academy is expected to become one of the largest in the world over the next decade and aims to create a new golden generation of Saudi sportspeople.
The academy, which was launched in July, 2020, received praise from a number of international sporting officials and personalities, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Italian national football team coach Roberto Mancini and veteran football manager José Mourinho.
At launch, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the sports minister, said, “This project is a dream step for Saudi Arabia, with the nation now focused on creating world-class Saudi talent that will make their country proud.”
Saudi Arabia’s massive national reform program, has supercharged sports in the country since its introduction.
The Kingdom has hosted a number of major international events, including the Supercoppa Italiana, Formula E, heavyweight boxing as well as golfing and tennis tournaments.
The reforms have also allowed for more participation of women in sports.
“All of our programs today that we do in the ministry of sports and the Federation is all about diversity and inclusion,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
Mahd Sports Academy will be identifying gifted boys and girls aged between 6 to 12.
The academy will look for players in two ways: the first via elementary school, where more than 10,000 PE teachers alongside scouts will be training and looking for players respectively.
The second stage involves the chosen ones joining the talent discovery centre, which the country aims to have 44 of by the end of 2025, including 1.7 million participants.