The St. Petersburg Football Federation studied the experience of German and Dutch colleagues and prepared a reform of children’s and teen sports in the city. Fontanka Sports Department – about how it will work.
In 2021, the Russian national football team took the last place in the group stage of Euro 2020, losing in the decisive match against Denmark with 1: 4. In the Champions League for six consecutive seasons, the Russian clubs did not manage to overcome the playoff phase. The stellar generation of the early 21st century in the person of Arshavin and Kerzakov is gone and new heroes of equal value have never grown up. In this context, experts once again began to talk about the deep problems of Russian football. In St. Petersburg they decided to make a real revolution: to radically change the approach of youth football. The best European samples were taken as a basis.
What is the purpose of the reform?
They want to direct the entire system of sports clubs and sports institutions in St. Petersburg to solve two problems – increasing mass participation and increasing the quality of football players’ training. It sounds boring in a graphic way, but the essence of the ideas is really impressive.
All the youth football of the city will be divided into three categories, which look like a pyramid: A, B and C. Category A is the clubs of the Premier League of St. Petersburg. Also, groups will be invited to it, which organizationally and infrastructurally will prove the compliance with this regime. Category B included teams from the A ‘to the Third League, as well as all sports training institutions (public or private, regardless of age). There is nothing new in these two categories. The most interesting starts below. For the first time, great attention was paid to school groups.
As the St. Petersburg Football Federation has admitted, unlike A and B, category C is still only on paper. Meanwhile, there are about 340 school sports clubs in the city. Not everyone has a football department, but this is the basis on which the line of category C clubs will be created.
“This is necessary, first, in order to organize a full-scale sports season for schoolchildren with an emphasis on elementary school students,” said Andrey Burlakov, general secretary of the St. Petersburg Football Association. – And so that the net playing time of each child who enters our system with his club is as long as possible during the training and sports season. It is very important for us children not to have an episodic football experience, as is the case now, but a normal full season.
The point is for school teams to take the first step on the road to big football. Ideally, the transition system looks like this: Class C clubs focus on working with children aged 7-10, Class B clubs focus on players aged 10-14, Class A clubs focus on children aged 14 years and over. But are the schools themselves ready for this?
What the school coaches say
According to Alexey Andrianov, coach of school No. 346, the situation is different everywhere, but mainly secondary schools have the necessary infrastructure.
About ten years ago, Vitaly Leontyevich Mutko, while still president of the Russian Football Association, had a cool program: “Let’s give a stadium to a school,” says Andrianov. Yes, it’s not full size – somewhere around 60×30, but you can easily play 6×6 on it.In the beginning it was on the balance sheet of the municipalities, then it was given on the balance sheet of the schools themselves. others are worse, but they are there.I mean, you can play football, there would be a desire.
At the same time, there is a staffing problem. Not all schools have qualified coaches.
“Yes, not everyone understands the value of football,” Adrianov continued. – Not because they are not interested, but maybe because the local coaches themselves have been involved in basketball, athletics, skiing and so on in the past. And those who specialize in football do not always train. However, there are children who want to play football. There are two points here – either to teach such coaches the basics of the game, or to attract students from the University. Reading. This, however, is a matter of additional prices, additional equipment, which, frankly, is not so much in school. But you can find a way out. And there are other coaches who live it. They should be encouraged by all means – financially, written for them, to be shown on television. While all this continues with enthusiasm.
The coach of school No. 291, Nikolai Rumyantsev, believes that not all schools are even ready for infrastructure reform.
“Sometimes we don’t even have enough balls and a clumsy pitch,” he says. -What is there to discuss. Some schools do not always even have a football coach.
The result is not important
Another revolutionary part of the reform is the decision to drop the score as the main measure of a coach’s performance.
“The financial motivation of the coaches was always based on the victories,” says the same coach Nikolai Rumyantsev. But not everyone can win. From here many incomprehensible tournaments took place. Somewhere they will go to the Volga, they will win something there and in St. Petersburg it is in 11th place. But there is a result!
Under the new rules, the score and results of the competition will no longer be the main indicators.
– The main task in each of the stages is to raise a child, to see the child, to create the most comfortable conditions for him, appropriate to his current level of development (both normal and psychological) and then to transfer him to next stage, – says the general secretary of the Federation footballer of St. Petersburg Andrei Burlakov. – This is an organic task, and it is the same both in the transition from the third stage to the second, and from the second to the first. And in addition, I will say how from the first – in professional football.
At the same time, the clear criteria for evaluating a player are still uncertain.
“The game will show,” Burlakov is sure. – Regardless of the outcome of a match or tournament on the court, it is always clear what the child has learned, how he interacts with the team, how he thinks during the game, what technical arsenal he has.
And the criterion for the success of the school will be how much it prepares the players to move on to the next category. But this is where the coach of School No. 291, Nikolai Rumyantsev, sees the main problem of the reform.
“In order for players to be able to move painlessly from one level to another in our conditions, we need coaches’ coalitions,” Rumyantsev said. – For example: there is Semak at Zenit and he knows that in such a school there is a conditional coach, Dmitry Radchenko, and Semak knows that sooner or later he will bring him a star. There are no such chains. In order to appear, school coaches must be strictly licensed. Why is one coach different from the other now? Previously, everyone was measured by results. And now everyone will be counted by the players. And how will the players move now? Either for friendship, or for beauty, or to understand that there is a top level coach and that he will help my footballer to develop and go even higher. In fact, during the transfer, I would make sure that the participation of the previous coach in the coaching process is made a condition for one year. In general, I support this reform.
Another problem with the current system in the federation is the high stress that young players experience when they have to play with teams of different levels.
“We studied the experience of the Netherlands and Germany separately,” says Burlakov. – Nobody spends a big sports season there. Their competition system is a festival system and there the organizers make sure that the atmosphere is as friendly as possible, so that it is not a traumatic event. This does not stop them later, when we watch elite sports, and there, for example, Russia plays against Denmark, to show its best abilities. Additional technically they are equipped at a much higher level. Also, we do not want to create stress in children and we plan to create a grid of struggles based on the principle “equal to equal”.
According to the Secretary General of the Federation of St. Petersburg, the draws will be determined based on the results of the matches that took place in the first stage. We decided on our own that a score like 1: 0, 1: 1 and 2: 0 is a game of equal opponents. If the difference is three goals, the teams are obviously of different levels.
– We came up with a system that allows us to see at least the number of matches equal and this season we will do an experiment: 50% of men will have to play against a team about their level, 25 – against a stronger team , 25 – weaker, – says Burlakov. That is, we try to get away from the classic system in two rounds, when everyone is playing with everyone. In addition, we want to divide the season into several stages, so that after each stage to be rewarded. Children need to be surrounded by a sense of accomplishment in order to be motivated to play football.
In addition, the federation plans to move away from the general ranking of clubs. That is, in order to move to the next category, your club had to show results at all ages. However, the level of the teams varies even within the same system of clubs. At one of the ages, a fairly high level team can be formed with a successful coach, but due to the rules in force he will have to play against obviously weaker opponents. Often the players of such teams are simply ranked by teams from the higher categories.
When will the reform work?
Separate elements will be introduced now, but it is fully planned that the changes will take effect only in 2024.
“We took a little more time to categorize the clubs (A and B) to clearly identify the requirements for them,” Burlakov explained. – In 2023, clubs will be able (including budget lines) to meet these requirements and prepare for how we will work in 2024. Another important factor that widens the gap for reform is introduction of changes in the regulatory framework of the Ministry of Sports and the Committee on Sports. It should determine the motivations of the club that operates within the football pyramid. In order to take the children, to take them to a certain level and to take them to the top, there must be incentive mechanisms, including the rate of return, which is managed by the sports committee. In general, I believe that the complete pyramid should be operational within three years.
Artem Kuzmin, Fontanka.ru