How did you start training ITMO students?

I have been working with ITMO University students for about ten years now. Ten years ago there was a group of students here who were highly enthusiastic about futsal. Among them were Andrei Gorbenko, Arthur Karnaukhov, Yevgeny Popov, Vladimir Milyukov, Stanislav Golubev and Anton Lukin. These guys played football quite well and wanted something more than just inter-faculty competitions, so they decided to take part in the St. Petersburg futsal championship. I was familiar with Arthur Karnaukhov; he played for the Dynamo team while I was its coach. He told me about this group and their leader Filipp Voiton, and we started working together.

Today there are three tiers of teams in the championship, but there were only two of them when ITMO’s team was created, and the University couldn’t enter the first group and competed in the second. But now, everything has changed and the University’s team is among the leaders in the first group.

Vladimir Nakhratov
Vladimir Nakhratov

How did the teams do at the national championship?

We used to compete in the Golden League. The main difference between the Golden League and the Silver League is that the former is for professional players. Apart from Ilya Bespaliy, we don’t have any professional athletes in our team. We took the second and the third places in the Golden League and then turned to the Silver League, in which we immediately took the first place.

There is also a women’s team, which took the fifth place in this year’s all-Russian competition.

The women’s team was created just five or six years ago. And it also achieves very good results; we took the second place in this year’s St. Petersburg student championship. We compete in national competitions every year and achieve good results there as well.

Who is your main rival at the city and national level?

St. Petersburg State Forest Technical University and the Bonch-Bruevich St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications are the main competitors of our women’s team. This time St. Petersburg State Forest Technical University took the first place. But I have to note that there are other universities with strong women’s futsal teams, such as the Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, and Pushkin Leningrad State University. The teams of St. Petersburg University of Industrial Technologies and Design and St. Petersburg University of Economics are the main competitors of our men’s team. These teams are also among the leaders in the overall ranking. The strongest futsal teams are from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

How can students join the University’s futsal team?

Every September we announce the dates of the trials. Every student, regardless of their program, can participate in the trials. This is usually two or three sessions. Many students want to try their hand at playing futsals, but since ITMO is not a sports university, students might find it rather difficult to enter the team. Nevertheless, every year several new students join the team.

What basic skills should a student possess to enter the team?

The University’s team is currently the champion among Russian student teams. So if a student doesn’t know how to play the game at all, they can’t enter the team. This is not a sports club, but the University’s select team. Besides, the teams in futsal are smaller rather than in regular football: there are only 12-14 players in a line-up and only four players on the pitch during the game.

How often do you train?

We train twice a week, on Monday and on Wednesday. All trainings take place at the Department of Sports and Wellness at Vyazemsky Pereulok.

How often do the University’s select teams take part in competitions?

The men’s select team only participates in official student competitions, such as the St. Petersburg student championship, and the Universities Futsal Championship. The women’s team also competes for the first place in St. Petersburg championship in the top league.

Can students playing for university teams become professional players?

Most often, the opposite process occurs: having entered the university, a professional can join the select team. But it is important to note that ITMO University has a very high passing rate, and if you put all your efforts into sports, you may find it rather hard to get admitted to the University. Most of the students at the university put a lot of effort in their studies first and foremost. Still, some of our students have become professional players.