Future World Cup Footballists
Russia can now get ready to host the World Cup in 2018. Over the holidays I decided to visit Moscow’s Chertanovo Football Academy in the southeastern district to get an early look at Russia’s World Cup potential during an invitational that included teams from Russia, Latvia and Ukraine. This very cold day, the U-10 teams (for boys born in 2001) were set up in the large indoor field for Chertanovo’s Third International Igor Kolyvanov Tournament. The eight teams included Moscow’s Lokomotiv, Khimki, CSKA, Spartak and Strogino. This was the last day of the six-day tournament. Chertanovo had made it through with Lokomotiv, but went down 1-0 in close match of amazing nine-year old footballists. The field does not have bleachers, so parents and fans spread out to stand around the perimeter of the field.
The Chertanovo Youth Football Academy, established in 1976, is open to both boys and girls aged six to seventeen. The girls’ component is unusual in Russia since the women’s sport has not reached the level of popularity that it has in some western countries. The academy has twelve boys’ teams ranging from U-6 to U-17 and eight girls’ teams from U-10 to U-18, each designation based upon the student’s year of birth (for example U-10 is for those born in 2001).
The Chertanovo Academy, which includes a boarding component of seventy students, provides students with the full Moscow education curriculum for grades one to eleven, with English instruction beginning in second grade. Despite the Academy’s football emphasis students are fully prepared for university entrance exams in sciences and other subjects. The boarding school is set to accommodate orphans and students from difficult social circumstances, as well as those who want to avoid a daily commute to school. In addition to football, students participate in other sports including basketball, volleyball, table tennis, handball, gymnastics and sport dance. After school each day, Chertanovo’s football trainers go to work with the kids.
Each Chertanovo football team competes with nine teams from other clubs around Moscow that include the city’s best known: CSKA, Spartak, Lokomotiv, and Dinamo. Chertanovo boys’ and girls’ teams also participate youth football tournaments worldwide, most recently in Japan and Morocco. The Academy’s players have graduated players who have gone on to fame on the Russian national team as well as Western European club teams - Igor Kolyvanov, Vasily Kulkov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
The players we saw today may be just too young by 2018 to represent their country against the 31 other teams that will be in Russia for the Cup, but you can bet that more than a few Russia team members will hail from Chertanovo.
Chertanovo is now accepting applications for both girls’ and boys’ teams.