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Palkin: We must unite and get engaged in grassroots football

Sunday, May 14, 2017



FC Shakhtar CEO attended the final match of the grassroots football tournament Come On, Let’s Play! that took place outside Kyiv

In his comments to reporters, Sergei Palkin noted the importance of developing amateur football for children and youth in Ukraine.

- Sergei Anatoliyovych, what is your take on the tournament?
- Basically, real football is the one that we are watching now here. After all, when you watch professionals’ game, you see strategy and tactics, being aware of errors. This is football, optimized to a professional level. We see emotions, which is crucial. For today, this is the only system project of the grassroots football in the country. Therefore, I would like to call the Ukrainian Football Federation, the Premier League and professional clubs for uniting behind this project. We all have to improve grassroots sports together. When you look at the stadiums, to which one and a half thousand people come, it is a system problem. There had been much talk of football organizations, clubs, the national team, but it all begins with this. Supposing that the team, which came to work at the Ukrainian Football Federation today, set the task to develop grassroots football, for example, saying, that when they began, ten thousand people played the grass football, and two years later, there would be a hundred thousand of them. I assure you, if even the national team did not achieve anything, and they showed that the number of children involved in sports increased by many times, then this team would certainly continue to work at the Football Federation. This is the basis, this is the crucial thing. If we do not begin with grassroots football, there will be no further development. Because the guys, who play here, firstly, left courtyards, with us getting them off the computers, gadgets, so that children go in for sports and, first and foremost, care for their health. They basically have two ways: some may go pro, while others will be just normal fans, who will support clubs in the regions. In addition, which is important, they will root for the national team. Then we will see the stadiums full of people. And I repeat: we must unite behind this project and get engaged in grassroots football, as this is something that all our football organizations have to be working on.

Come On, Let’s Play! project is one of Shakhtar's landmarks. Will the project continue to develop?
- We hope so. We do not want to work alone in this direction, since we are eager to expand to the project as many sports organizations as possible. The main indicator is the number of boys and girls engaged in football in the country. It is necessary to set clear goals and move towards them. When we go step by step and the number of people will increase by many times, then we can call it the grassroots football in Ukraine. And what we see today in the stands is not grassroots sport. It seems that clubs play for themselves and professional sports live on its own. Therefore, we need to start with this. Then, I assure you, the fans will go to football matches. After all, when a person does this sport, he worries about it, he gets interested in it, then he will come to the stadium. Playing just for fun, you will achieve nothing. Today, we spend 90 percent of our efforts, time and budget on professional football, and everyone has forgotten about this. We need to move only in this direction.

- Sergei Anatoliyovych, we know that you plan to develop the project in Dobropillia and Kharkiv. In which cities would you like to implement it in the future?
- We do not have a goal to realize projects only in the central cities of Ukraine. The task is to work in all cities, especially those where there are no professional clubs, professional football. After all, this project is for every child. I think the more cities we cover, the better. Therefore, I call all football organizations for getting engaged in grassroots football.

- Academy Director Oleksandr Funderat is watching the guys with interest as well. The boys surely have additional motivation if they are being watched, don’t they?
- Of course, they do. You know, when football people, especially players, are present at such events, then this is a very serious motivation for children. They see their idols only on TV, but here they come to the guys. Imagine what emotions they are experiencing now. I think our professional sport should pay attention to this and involve as many players as possible in such projects.