Oleksandr Funderat: We established full operation of the entire system
Director of the FC Shakhtar Academy summed up the year results in his interview to the official site.
- What event in 2015 was the most outstanding for the club's Academy?
- Of course, it was the advancement of Shakhtar U19 team to the UEFA Youth League final - the whole period of the team’s progress towards the final match in Nyon. Plus the fact that this team have become the champions of Ukraine. In this passing year, we have retained the operation system and eliminated certain imbalance. Last season, separate parts of the Academy were based in Poltava and Kyiv, while this summer we have managed to bring them all together. This way, we managed to establish in Schaslyve full operation of the entire system - from U14 team to U21 one. Of course, that’s neither Donetsk nor Kirsha training centre. But let it be a small step towards our teaming up in order to later return with the same composition. Plus the first team are nearby, which has a positive effect on the young players, who join in the senior team’s training.
- Please assess the performance of the Academy’s professional teams in each age group.
- Shakhtar U14 became the champions in their age group. That’s our future, on which we rely so much. From last year's U13 team we formed a new team of U14, who are also the current league leaders. We expect more from Shakhtar U15 and Shakhtar U16 this season. Maybe their league standing does not fully correspond to our wishes. But I want to note that we are playing in the strongest DUFL division, and compared to last year, our U15 and U16 teams claimed more points.
- Are you happy with the performance of Shakhtar U17?
- Yes. Unfortunately, the team lost the most recent game against Dynamo, although they had been on a winning streak previously without conceding a goal. I believe in this group and its being promising enough – I think Shakhtar U17 should advance to the top position. But we must not forget that this is only the preliminary part of the championship. So we will assess it based on the overall performance in the summer.
- What do you make of the U19 team?
- The team with new coaching staff and new players entered well the Youth League and the Ukrainian League, which is now held based on a round-robin system. Changes in the squad and introducing more young players led to inconsistency in the performance in the domestic league, which affected our standings. However, the closing rounds of the autumn part revealed the team potential: they have started claiming points, pulled themselves up to reduce the gap to 3 points from thetop team and will fight for the championship. In general, I believe that upon graduation from this group, we will have no less players than we had last season.
- How has the general level of DUFL changed?
- Compared with last year, it has improved. One of our initiatives was creation of stronger groups. By and large, our teams spend the entire league season there. Last season, the two leaders stood out – Shakhtar and Dynamo. Now, with the appearance of Kharkiv-based Metalist and Dnipropetrovsk-based UFC and Dnipro, we see the competition of more teams for two or three berths in the finals. And those higher profile competitions have a positive impact on footballers.
- How is being formed the process of training children under 14?
- In Donetsk, our Children's Academy for the children aged 7 to 13 continues operating. The coaching staff conducts a fully-fledged training process. We understand that it’s our future. This year, we had three trials for the U13 group boys, that is, so we gradually start shaping a group for the next season.
- What are the plans of the professional Academy for the winter break?
- Shakhtar U19 together with the U21 team will fly to Turkey. U17 team will participate in two adult tournaments, which will take place in Kyiv: last season we already had such a practice, and it produced good results. At the same time, the Football Federation has initiated the Winter DUFL Cup. It will involve U16 teams, with one group possibly featuring our U15 team. Shakhtar U14 will take part in domestic competitions. But do not forget that apart from the sporting process, all the guys attend secondary school! We will strike a balance between educating our boys and their specialist involvement in football, trying to participate in all pre-season competitions.