A big interview of ex-midfielder of Dynamo Brest, who recently retired and entered the coaching staff of the second team.
What did you do after official retirement?
- First of all, this was not an easy decision: it’s always hard to give up something you’ve been doing for recent ten-fifteen years. I gave myself to professional sports, but, thanks God, due to our managers, coaching staff, Sports Director, we’ve discussed and decided, that it would be better for me to start doing another duty. And thanks to them I’ve started my coaching career, to say so. What did I do? Very soon, a week after, I’ve gone to Cyprus for a studies. That was the team APOEL Nicosia, participant of the Champions League. Now they’ve qualified to the group stage. I’ve been there for eight days, that was a training period in their Academy.
That was a nice time, I’ve learn much there. Being a player, sometimes you don't notice what coached do. Leon Jansen was with me, the advisor to Sports Director, who has been helping me. Also he improved my English, as we had to use only this language for these eight days. No one spoke Russian, and that was a sort of challenge for me in terms of communication. And, of course, I’ve worked with a quality youth coach, Mr. Kovac, who has been working in football federations of Belgium and the Netherlands.
I had a chance to get acquainted with their groundwork, starting from training process and ending with medical check-up, which is being done in the beginning of the season, its middle and end. That means, they follow functional conditions of all players, so that was a golden experience, which I’ve got. After my return, I started to get into: first I’ve attended trainings in the Academy. Another useful experience. I am grateful to the Director of the Academy, who let me know, what little kids mean for me. They need a special treatment. Also the Head Coach of the Academy - David Deogarcia, who stretched a helping hand, I have a special word of gratitude for him. From the first of September the Board, having spoken to the Sports Director and the Director of Academy, decided that I would be useful in the second team. So, now I am a coach of the second team.
How does life without regular trainings and matches look like?
- I’ve told myself right after retirement: “Don’t touch the ball”. My first step in becoming a quality coach is to kill my inner player. This is one of the most common problems of all coaches - when they start coaching, they treat themselves as acting footballers, compare themselves with those, whom they are coaching. I think, this is totally inappropriate approach. My friends called me, I’ve attended trainings of first team and thanks to Mr. Zhuravel, who offered to participate. But I said: “No. I deliberately want to kill a player inside of me and become a coach”. So, yes, it was difficult for the first time in psychological way. I have prepared myself to this, so there are no regrets and this is the most important.
Returning to you Cyprus trip, are the differences huge in comparison to our reality?
- I won’t compare Dynamo Brest and APOEL Nicosia. Why? APOEL is a regular participant of group stages of Champions League and Europa League. This is a team of a high level. First, they have only two Cypriots in the squad, the rest are foreign players. So, if we have four-five, then they have whole team consisting of foreign players. If we remove limits and set high goals, we can invite quality foreigners, precisely into Dynamo Brest. If to compare levels or administrative staffs, I haven't been to their first team, so it’s hard to assess.
There are wonderful conditions for kids in Brest, they take part in various tournaments. In this term we are on right way and, I think, we’ll succeed.
So, I can compare our Academies. Ours is being operating for only one year. And we’ve done very big steps forward. I remember, how we’ve been training poorly dressed, with no finances, bare-footed and what attitude has been towards youth football in our city and in our country. Thanks to our investors, now the kids are well equipped. They can practice at a good pitch, we feed them, and wonderful professionals work with them - Yury Vodovozov and Ruslan Azarenok.
How did your family react on the changes in your life?
- My wife has been worrying most. She has born a son recently, and that was a major occasion. Family occupies first place, but it was hard to share it with football right after my son’s birth. Life has completely changed for me. So, I didn't even want to change something, go somewhere, and realized - this was the time. That was a sign for me. My family always supports me. I won’t say that there were some kind of talks, family meetings, no, things just went their way. One day I announced to my parents, that I’ve done. Mom said: “You are an adult person, we won’t tell you what to do”. Wife said: “I will accept any your choice”. So, everything is fine.
Have you evaluated the club’s processes from the side which remained invisible for a player?
- Yes, I have another view today: on some occasions, on the work of administrative staff, masseur. When you are a player, you don't notice these little details, but when you are a coach, you notice much more. There is room for improvement, but, for example, there are beautiful training conditions for the first team. Just like in BATE and Dinamo Minsk, Dynamo Brest aims to do everything for the footballers. I wish all the guys working with first team, for example, Andrey Tsevan, to progress and improve as professionals.
We’ve talked about Cyprus, but there was another trip - to Kyiv. You’ve had an excursion in their training base. What impressions do you have from it?
- Of course, Dynamo Kyiv is a top club, the most titled team of Eastern Europe. I entered the office of Lobanovskyi at the stadium being alone. Everything has left like it was when he was alive. To feel the atmosphere and the energy… It’s priceless. Dynamo Kyiv’s base is a huge area, a big building with three floors of medical and rehabilitation rooms. There are two fields for first team and several pitches for the other teams. Academy’s apart. This is a huge experience. Only final score left us upset. But overall, the trip was positive. You communicate with new people, set the goals for yourselves. You saw how was their youth playing. This is an alert for all of us in Belarus. That’s why, these trips should repeat more often.
We should rush to catch the last carriage, jump in it and take everything, that is developed in Europe long ago.
It’s so nice that we have an opportunity to visit such clubs. Earlier we couldn't move further than Kobrin, and we must treasure it. Our kids in the Academy are small, but when they will grow up, I want every player, who carry Dynamo Brest t-shirt, to appreciate what is done for him, to appreciate what he is playing for. This is ‘D’ letter from the city upon Bug. This is of highest value. When we succeed in it, I am sure, Dynamo Brest will occupy leading roles not only in Belarus, but also in Eastern Europe. But this growth is impossible without such training conditions. That was very useful information not only for first team, but for whole club. Apart from it, this is also international connections. Who knew Dynamo Brest before? Now everyone does. This is nice.
Now there are many talks about the performance of Belarusian National team. It’s not doing well, to say so. Will you support this critics?
- There are few positives, but I think, our major mistake is poor development of youth football. There are more influential and educated specialists than me, but if we want our main team to perform well, we should draw much attention to youth football. Huge attention. Starting from infrastructure and ending with right specialists. I’ve read an interview of Vitaly Kutuzov. He’s right, there are non-football specialists working in our footballing structure. A regular sportsman wouldn't teach children proper football. This is our main problem.
We shall draw more attention and invest in youth football. Sometimes, perhaps, we’ll give more than to our adult squads, but this will pay off. We must wait, be patient, which nobody wants.
In the end, we would ask about the performance of Dynamo Brest first team. From the point of view of a person, who’s already not in the squad.
- First part of the season was nice. This is, first of all, the Cup. We’ve completed the task, but started very poorly in the League. Now we can say so. After the Cup, perhaps, some guys thought that the season finished. No! Then there was Europa League. This was a great occasion for whole Brest. 10 years ago we’ve brought Metallurgs here, and now we’ve brought Altach. I hope, we’ll bring someone else next year. Actually, I am sure in it.