The Main Thing Is Not to Lose Faith

Nikolay is an amateur football player who devotes all his free time to the sport, but simply playing isn't enough for him. In this interview, he explains why he has taken on the job of a children's coach and what he values above all. 

A Life of Sport

Nikolay Masterov is 28 years old. A native of Uryupinsk in the Volgograd Region, he has spent all his life in his hometown. In addition to higher education, Nikolay has a football coach diploma. 

"I started playing football at an early age. It wasn't because I saw some great player on TV and immediately wanted to be like him, no. It was much more prosaic: I got my love of the game in the yard where we often played with my friends. I got hooked and over time got better at it. At some point, my mother took me to a children's and youth sports school. There I got some proper training and took part in my first competitions. After some time, I started going to tryouts, but I must have lacked talent, diligence, or maybe even desire, so my professional career never kicked off. Anyway, I was never going to hang up my boots. I'm currently playing at the regional level and slowly learning the basics of coaching."

"I Want to Give Kids Opportunities."

"I had been eyeing football projects for quite some time, applying for grants and even contacting the Dinamo Moscow youth academy, but for various reasons, it never clicked. And then some football enthusiasts from my hometown sent me information about the Iskra project, encouraging me to give it a try," recalls Nikolay. 

Nikolay didn't have particularly high hopes when submitting his application, but when the answer came, he realized he finally had a chance to make his dream come true and start developing children's football in his native town. 

"I liked the idea behind the project right away. We're not looking for mega talents that could bring us money. We don't aim to turn children into professional football players. What we do want is for kids who are into football and their less sports-enthusiastic friends to be able to come and play together and get involved in this world. We want them to have fun, kick the ball, hang out on the field together — that sort of thing. I think it gives any coach a lot more freedom. You don't need to, say, bring a team to a tournament in six months and contend for a spot on the podium, defeating all the opponents. No one will tell you that your athletes can't hit the ball properly and that you're doing a poor job training them. Everyone understands that we want the kids to be happy, come to the field, run around, be active, and have fun."

The Motivation Is Through the Rood

"Despite my coach diploma, this is my first real coaching experience. It helps that I've already worked with children before as a counselor at a summer camp. There I realized that working with children was a very demanding and in some ways difficult, but nonetheless very interesting endeavor. We need to support the younger generation and help them grow. Being able to teach a child something or set a good example is very encouraging and empowering. That's why I've chosen something football-related. First of all, I love football , which makes my job easier and more enjoyable. Secondly, kids in our small town don't have a lot of opportunities to train, find classes, or catch the eye of a football agent.
It's great that such projects exist and that there are people willing to provide, build, and open something for free. That's no small feat. I hope and believe that Iskra will prosper and grow and that we will encourage other coaches in Russian provinces not to give up and to try and develop football in their native towns."