16-year-old Anton lives and breathes football. “Football is my drive and my passion. The strategy and the tactics, the happiness of victories and lessons from defeats – this is what makes me a better person.”
Anton first started playing football when he came to live in the SOS Children’s Village Pushkin in Saint Petersburg. He joined the village football team quickly becoming one of its most regular players. His dedication to the world’s most popular game brought him an unforgettable experience.
Football for friendship
In the summer of 2013, the first international children’s football tournament called Football for Friendship was held in London under the patronage of Gazprom for Children social programme. Aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering tolerance, the tournament brought together children from around the world. Anton was one of them.
Following fierce, yet fair games, Anton’s team took the fifth place. After the tournament, Anton got a chance to watch live the 2013 UEFA Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich at Wembley Stadium. The experience only reinforced the young man’s determination to stay serious and dedicated to playing football.
At the Football for Friendship tournament 2017, Anton decided to try out as a coach of one of the teams. He coached Team Cyan that included children from Uruguay, Bangladesh, Ghana, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq. First-time coach Anton says language could have been a barrier however “people who are so passionate about something can understand each other without any words.”
The senior coach of Team Cyan says that Anton prepared well for the competition and gave excellent feedback of the young man’s performance and personal qualities. “Anton managed to find common language with all his players and united the team,” was the senior coach’s evaluation of Anton’s work.
“When the opportunity [to coach] presented itself, there was no way I’d miss out,” Anton says. “I really like coaching. I met many children and young people from different countries, learned about the traditions and how what football means to them. Yes, training is difficult, but also very interesting. Personally, I think it’s better to be a playing coach or starts as player, get experience and only then go into coaching.”
Everyone is equal
Anton says he sees football as “a universe where everyone is equal.” True to his motto the young man gladly tries out all positions as a player, but admits that most often he’s a goalkeeper or a midfielder.
When it comes to role models, Anton moves forward: “Neymar is the ‘king of dribbling’. He plays football since childhood, like me. Neymar has a distinguishing technique and can outplay all rivalling players which is why he is in such a great demand. “
And while Anton continues to perfect his playing style and coaching knowledge, he says he will be closely following the 2018 FIFA World Cup being hosted by his home country Russia. The teams the young hopeful will be rooting for are Russia and his role model’s team – Brazil.