In order to suit the Academy`s requirements, the beginning footballers had to prove their abilities in several different areas: speed, coordination, agility, and reaction. “The tasks we gave to the youths included going through a small obstacle course and taking part in moving games (“4 on 4” or “3 on 3" – depending on the age group). The coaches and scouts chose those players who made the best impression,” – says Sergey Gordeev, head of the Academy selection service. The smallest children – born in 2004 – were given the chance for the first time this year to become young Zenit players. Two groups were made up with the youngest players, for a total of 32 people. But this number isn`t necessarily final, since boys in that age group need a trial period (usually a month to a month and-a-half). Only after that will the groups be truly finalized.
Requirements made of older boys – 2001 to 2003 birthdays – were much tougher. The reason for this is that the Academy already has players of these age groups. Those young footballers who are currently in the Academy already have specific skills which they`ve gained by practicing in the Academy. In order to join their ranks, potential newcomers have to have the corresponding preparation.
– Some players who didn`t make the main school of the Academy for whatever reason will start practices in the Academy`s branches. This gives them the chance to improve their football skills in parallel to their peers from the main school, since the concept, method and coaching approach in the branches is the same as in the main Academy school. Furthermore, kids in the branches are always stimulated to get better faster and move to the main school,” continued Sergey Gordeev.
One of the new features this year is that special classes were formed as part of the Academy. Players from one team will study in one class in the general education school № 473. Classes, practices, lunches, and homework done in the student`s free team – everything is done systematically, thereby giving young sportsmen a regular rhythm which allows them to practice better. Constant contact off the field also gives each player inner connections with other players, which has a positive effect on team spirit. “It`s too early to speak now, but remembering the experience of past years, with Vyacheslav Malafeev, Igor Denisov, Andrey Arshavin, who were all graduates of this school, we want to hope for the best. In any case, we definitely have only to gain from our strong organization,” – the head of the Academy’s selection service thinks.
Now the young talents who became students of the Academy are going through the first stage of their sporting lives. They are now going to practices systematically (from twice a week for the youngest players to daily practices for the oldest groups), are watching matches, and are learning the ethics of the football code.
The next selection will take place in April, when the doors to the new building at Ulitsa Vernosti and at the Academy`s branches will open to young footballers who dream of defending Zenit`s colors...