Dubai: The neighbouring Gulf State of Qatar is hoping to ride on the popularity of football in bringing forward hidden talent, more recently with strategic alliances with Europe.

Abdullah Thani Al Zahraa, the Techincal Expert at the Academy for Sports Excellence (Aspire) admitted that the biggest challenge for Qatar as it prepares to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup, is to get its youth depart from their sedentary modern-day lifestyle and take up sport to reach the highest level.

"But our lifestyle does not encourage kids to take up to sport. So our programmes are not designed just for talented players but more for those players who are average," Al Zahraa told delegates on the concluding day of the 1st Dubai International Football Academies Forum Sunday.

There are less than 5,000 registered players with the QFA with not even a handful making it to the higher levels of the sport, at times. "It's a huge challenge to try and wean away talent from a mere base of 4,925 registered players in Qatar. So the numbers are our biggest challenge if we compare with most of the European nations. This in turn results in fewer talented players and an even smaller number who will make it to the bigger stage," Al Zahraa disclosed.

"If we are to reach higher levels then we need a road map, and part of this is to have a close coordination and working between Aspire, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) and the clubs within the country," he added.

"We are lagging behind at the moment, but we do need to start achieving results at the Asian levels first and then aspire for better results on the international stage," he insisted.