On March 26th a benefit match and master class featuring world-famous football stars will take place in Moscow.
The Football Stars and Russian Children benefit match of Kick Off for Good Moscow 2016 and a master class for children raised in orphanages from several of the country’s regions will take place in Moscow at Lokomotiv stadium. The organizer is the Ziyavudin Magomedov PERI Charitable Foundation. The match is part of the international Kick Off for Good campaign which arranges major football events to underwrite charity projects and draw attention to social problems. One of the creators of the campaign is former player for Milan, Clarence Seedorf, who together with Polina Filippova, Iván Zamorano, Valery Gazzaev and Evgeni Aldonin took questions from journalists the day before the match.
Polina Filippova, director of the PERI Charitable Foundation, began the press conference by outlining the purpose and goals of the Kick Off for Good Moscow athletic educational project that has been arranged by Russian entrepreneur Ziyavudin Magomedov and former footballer for the Netherlands national team Clarence Seedorf. All proceeds will be used to support orphans and those brought up in orphanages, for whom football is an important gateway to social skills and participating in society. The money will be spent in Makhachkala and Taganrog, where large athletic facilities are to be constructed, and also in Moscow for the Step Up Centre of Equal Opportunities. Tomorrow the children will not only be able to watch their idols from the seats at Lokomotiv stadium, but they will also have a chance to play football along with the stars during the morning master class. As both Polina and head coach of the Russian national team Valery Gazzaev said, Kick Off for Good Moscow is intended to dispel the myth that charitable action is only for the wealthy. Valery Georgevich believes that helping those around you is the duty of every human being.
As you might expect, the most eager questioners were not the journalists, but rather the footballers from the women’s amateur club Marus. When asked about discrimination against the weaker sex in important football games, international players Iván Zamorano and Clarence Seedorf answered in unison that women’s football is absolutely on a par with men’s. The Dutchman assured the girl that the two main prerequisites for the success of women’s football are self-confidence and popularization of that version of the sport. Valery Gazzaev in his response pointed out the importance of amateur football where all the stars, from Valery Georgevich himself to Zamorano and Seedorf, got their start.
Questions about the problems facing the Russian national team, the upcoming Euro championship in France, and naturalization are bound to come up when the Russian team’s ex-trainer appears. It is even more inevitable when Predrag Mijatović, the naturalized legendary player for Real Madrid, is on Team Russia in this benefit match.
‘Russian professional football has been in existence for only about twenty years’, Gazzaev says. ‘Of course, the Russian national team can’t be content with placing sixth or seventh in Europe. And in addition, the Russian Premier League should be classed with the best European championships alongside the English, Italian, Spanish, German, and French ones. Russian football does need to restructure and reform—to introduce a professional system for children and youth playing football in every territory of the Russian Federation where there are so many talents. The World Cup in 2018 will give a great boost to the development of football in our country. When it comes to naturalization, I don’t have any problem with it. The main thing is for any player who gets a Russian passport to be valuable for the team. What about prospects for the upcoming European Cup? Let’s say the Russian team will be the European champions.’
Johan Cruyff, who died on March 24th at the age of 68, had been one of the players that Clarence Seedorf had invited to coach Team Worldwide. Ibrahim Ba, former player for Milan, is taking that position.
‘We have to pay homage to Cruyff’s memory with a minute of silence’, said Seedorf. ‘Absolutely everyone who knew this great football player and trainer is in mourning.’
‘Johan Cruyff was an outstanding person and one of the football greats on the order of Pelé or Maradona’, Valery Gazzaev observed. ‘He changed the thinking of footballers with his game and leadership qualities. The basics of your game, as Barcelona is currently demonstrating them, were laid down by the Dutchman. The world has lost an idol in football history. That kind of player comes along just once in a century. May he rest in peace.’
Evgeni Aldonin expressed his condolences this way. ‘All of us in football mourn as one over the loss of Cruyff. He was an exceptional player and trainer. Cruyff’s departure marks the end of an era.’
‘I played against Johan Cruyff’s Barça as a member of Real Madrid’, Iván Zamorano added. ‘I remember one season when we were losing 5:0, but we came back and beat Cruyff with the exact same score. Really, the Dutchman was not just a great player and trainer, but also a fine human being. Cruyff was also active in charity and often organized events like Kick Off for Good Moscow.’
Copy: Danila Ignatov
Images: Pavel Tkachuk, ‘Championat’