He trains an abundance of well-known athletes, among them are some of Egypt’s beloved football players; Mohamed Hany (El Ahly), Ossama Ibrahim (Zamalek), Ahmed Rifaat (Zamalek), Mohamed Nagy Gedo (Moqaouloun El Arab), Ahmed Saeed Oka (Smouha), Hassan El Shamy (Intag El Harbi) and Loay Badr (El Entag El Harby).

He is none other than Ignite’s founder and Egypt’s first Performance Specialist, Hussein Abdel Dayem. An ex-football player himself, Abdel Dayem played for Zamalek FC, Wadi Degla FC and was a member of the under 21 National Team. With around 15 years of football experience, including a few years abroad, Abdel Dayem experienced the real meaning of team conditioning, something that he found was not available in the Egyptian market. As a Performance Specialist, Hussein studied science and sports and developed a wider understanding of training athletes to cater to their specific needs and deal with their weaknesses. He works with individual athletes, from assessing their weaknesses to catering tailored programs, as well as National teams to help with their conditioning and performance.

Specific work is key when it comes to the pros. #TheSpecialists #IGNITE #PerformanceTraining A photo posted by IGNITE Egypt (@ignite.egypt) on

Abdel Dayem applies his background and education at Ignite, where he provides performance training for athletes. Performance training is a science that’s been practiced all across the globe for years to enhance the performance of athletes. The process begins with a couple of tests to examine an athlete’s physical and mental standing. Everything done at Ignite is curated using scientific-based techniques. They go deeply into biomechanics, to find out the source of an athlete’s problem and work on fixing it. Based on the athlete’s sport and the findings of these tests, a special program is tailored to cater to their individual needs. Each program is created specifically to push athletes to enhance their performance to reach levels they never knew were possible.

Abdel Dayem believes that in Egypt, people tend to fix injuries instead of treat the origin of the problem. At Ignite, though, they aim to fix problems from their source in order to give the athlete the optimal recovery formulas that will help them be back on track better than before. They have a team of therapists who work with the performance trainers and nutritionists to create a complete program for the athletes; the program entails everything from rehabilitation of post-injury or post-surgery, to a full custom program to get them back on track with improved performance. Instead of going back and forth between doctors, trying to find physiotherapists, and a nutritionist you’re comfortable with, Ignite offers you a fully-equipped facility to cater all needs.

Are Performance Training sessions done on a one-to-one basis or in groups?

Performance training can be done on a one-on-one basis with the athlete or in small groups or teams. Due to the unique situation of each athlete’s rehabilitation, it must be on an individual basis. Some clubs, for example, bring forth a few of their athletes, that may have some weaknesses, and we work to enhance their health and performance. Other clubs, like Aimz Girls Football Academy have brought the whole team to Ignite to be trained twice a week to work on their physical conditioning. Are football clubs now aware that athletes need special training outside their regular football training? We’ll make them aware. It’s been happening and the market is growing, but there is a lack in scientific training in this field in Egypt. Everything at Ignite is scientific and based on studies not on trial and error. We can’t treat everyone with the same injury in the same way – the source of the injury could be different as each individual is different and their injury and recovery process must be unique to them.  

Do you get more soccer athletes from the old or new generation? Both. We get athletes from both the old and the new generation, as the older generations are realizing how quickly the younger generation are taking over so they now know that they need to work on themselves. Waleed Soliman of El Ahly, for example, who’s been with Ignite for a year now is constantly working on improving himself. Moreover, Social media now allows people to see everything about everyone, so they see how some players are training outside of the club on their fitness along with their regular football training. That helps in motivating and challenging others to do the same thing.

Are there specific nutritional guidelines for football players?

Every sport has a different energy system, so when you’re working with an athlete you need to understand what kind of food he needs so that you can identify the recovery formula required for him. Soccer is not like tennis, the physical demands and the energy system development are completely different for each. You can’t train both in the same way. What they burn, the food, the recovery, the supplementation… is just not the same because their energy expenditure is not the same.

Athletes usually believe that you need to cut nutrition, to eat less, so they can lose weight quickly. This is when injuries start showing up, and metabolism rates drop. It’s our job to work on changing these beliefs to help an athlete reach their most optimal selves. We offer nutrition and training awareness, to explain how and why everything is done at Ignite. It’s not a matter of being a systematic machine; the athletes need to understand why they do what they do in order to be convinced.

We had one football player come to us after suffering from a case of severe hernia and being told by an outside-doctor that it would take him 8-12 weeks to recover. After being examined at Ignite and following our customized program, in five weeks he was back on the field fully recovered. It’s a matter of believing in what you do, and you will see results.