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President of Kazakhstan League of Children and Youth Football “Zhas Kyran” Berik Kaniyev and Vice President Marat Abdildabekov speak about their football project and their objectives

In an interview with the PROSPORT correspondent, president of KLCYF “Zhas Kyran” Berik Kaniyev and Vice President Marat Abdildabekov speak about the progress of their football project, the number of children involved in the tournaments across the country and what objectives they set themselves.

– It’s been nearly a year since “Zhas Kyran” has become a Republican league. Tell us about what you have learnt over time and how you’ve come up with an idea of creating such an all-Kazakhstani event.
B.K.: In 2011, with the active participation of Marat Abdildabekov we launched a children and youth football tournament in Almaty. Since then, the city league has successfully developed and currently counts 118 teams and over 2,700 children. Due to the fact that one division could not accommodate everyone, we divided the competition in Leagues A and B. By the end of 2015, we were in full swing and had both, the city and the Republican football federations joining our efforts. And when we joined the Executive Committee of FFK (Federation of Football of Kazakhstan), we came up with an idea to replicate Zhas Kyran all over Kazakhstan. The ambitious goal to cover as many regions of the country as possible, was set a year ago. Initially, we had hoped that the league would include ten representatives of the regions, but in the end we managed to attract 90% of all regions of the country.
M.A.: Our idea – to create a social elevator. A talented child from the regional center would have never got into a football center, or anywhere. But because what we do, the child wins the district, regional, and republican competitions – and he grows. He is noticed and, as a result, may be invited into a football center, where he will work with professional coaches and all necessary equipment. “has Kyran helps the majority of unnoticed children to break through. Due to their willingness, of course. A hungry one has a greater motivation than the one who comes to train in an expensive car.

– How many children are involved in Zhas Kyran all over Kazakhstan?
B.K.: At the beginning of the year we set the goal to increase the total number of participating children up to 30 – 32 thousand. We have calculated this amount by examining the European children leagues and taking into account the number of football sections in different regions of Kazakhstan. Based on the experience of Almaty league Zhas Kyran, we have calculated how many children may be in the age strata that we are interested in, minus those who are already engaged in children football centers under the national championship. We have already covered about 20 thousand people, and in the second season, by the next spring, we expect to reach the figure of 30 thousand.
If we manage to properly develop our league, we want to give it the status of the national championship. In this case, we will be able to assign rankings to children, and categories and cash bonuses to the coaches.
M.A.:According to optimistic forecasts, the total number of children participating in league Zhas Kyran can achieve even 35 thousand by the end of next year.
As for the coaches who work with teams, they should have a category C, which confirms certain qualifications. But we have very few of such specialists. Most of the coaches, who work on the district level, do not own such category and can not get it. Therefore, we are trying to motivate the coaching staff (this work is gradually built up). We plan to send certain mentors for further training. Our colleagues who are responsible for this, are currently carrying out an audit of coaches. It is clear that preference is given to young professionals who can develop over time and who have the future. The same goes for the judges.
– How many Zhas Kyran children can top football centers in your opinion?
B.K.: We will be happy if there are three or four players every year. It’s important that we get the children used to the healthy lifestyle. It is good if someone gets into a football center, but if someone chooses a different future and will go to a university, the experience will still give them a lot.
I remember my own example. I trained at SKA Club and when I was 14 I went to play in Aktyubinks. Then I moved to the physics and mathematics school and my coach Mr. Nurpeisov always wanted to take me back. So I had a conversation with my father and he said: if you promise that by the 10th grade you will play in Kairat Club then you can continue your football career, and if not – you will have to focus on the school studies. As a result, I didn’t become a big football player, but the football experience had changed my life. If we take a child out of a village and show them opportunities, the experience will stay forever. For instance, the kids who came to the Championships in Baikonur during a weekend attended the famous space museum where they learnt about the history of the world space, asked a lot of questions and took photos. Perhaps, if it wasn’t for the tournament, the boys from different parts of the country would never see this beautiful city, the center of the world space. It’s a kind of pedagogical education of the younger generation.

– It’s curious to know about the structure of Zhas Kyran.
B.K.: We have registered the branches in each region, where we have a few people who are directly involved in the organization of competitions. These branches are financed by the central league of youth football “Zhas Kyran”. All other costs, like expenses for the stadiums, the judges, are under the regional sports management. I have made an agreement with the Akims. And it is not so much money – 15-20 mln tenge per year for a region. This amount does not only include the organization of the district and regional tournaments, but also finances the winners’ participation in the republican tournaments of five age categories. In general, the benefit is huge.
M.A.: An important point. It is clear that we set the tone. But people are fundamental in this project – these are people with a great football experience known in the entire Kazakhstan: Bolat Esmagambetov, Viktor Katkov, Valeriy Malygin and others.

– Is it manageable to provide each team with sufficient game practice? How many games a year do they play?
B.K.: Each region represents 20-25 teams in each age category. They are divided into groups and determine the best players in their clusters. Next, the winners go to the regional and national competitions. It turns out that the teams completing all the way through, have up to 18 – 25 games a year. I think this is a great motivating factor. Previously, children who didn’t make to football centers and trained in regular sections could only participate in rare tournaments that lasted for two or three days. Now they play in a full-scale championship. They prepare for each match and work in cycles. The coach can see what schemes to work out and what goals to set for each particular game.

– Infrastructure is probably the most painful issue in the domestic football. Are you faced with similar problems?
B.K.: That’s why we must start with the branches. Neither I nor Marat (Abdildabekov – edit.”PROSPORT Kazakhstan”) have time to travel around Kulsary or Shalkar district to see real infrastructure. But the league pursues the goal to see an accurate picture of each region and improve their infrastructure. No less important is an issue of qualification of coaches, as Marat has already mentioned. So it’s a whole layer that we pull out on the surface of the football system.
М. А.: In fact, we have seen good quality infrastructure in some of the regions. But in general, of course, it’s a problem that I hope our league will help resolve.

– In what capacity would you like to see the Zhas Kyran league in a year or two?
M.A.: With regard to the competitions the ultimate aim is to cover seven age categories and hold a championship of Kazakhstan among the children.
But we also need to create some kind of information space, so that people can communicate with each other, see the big picture, and view the results of games in all regions. Maybe we will be able to organize live video broadcasts of matches. A new generation of children is involved in interactive activities, so we have developed a portal which along with traditional commenting provides a chat and blogging opportunities. That is, we need a feedback. A key focus of the site is the certification of all participants in the Zhas Kyran league. We cannot provide the exact number of children involved in the competition today, because different regions have different figures. We hope to take into account each child until the end of the year and introduce all of the data according to the requirements of UEFA – the weight, height, speed on the hundred-meter race, physical characteristics, position. This portal will let you monitor the progress and growth of the child from the farthest villages.
B.K.: I would like the league to become a fundamental springboard for preparing a new generation, from which the football centers could choose the most talented players including those from the most remote parts of our vast country. And we are convinced that have a lot of talented kids. There have been several events with the participation of teams of the Kairat Academy – we can say that even in this setting the Zhas Kyran teams from Almaty look pretty good. At the same time, we see that some football centers could accept more talented boys in their ranks. In the future, I think we will make an offer to the Football Federation to organize some kind of event in which teams composed of the best Zhas Kyran players could play with the football centers’ teams so that their managers could regularly look for talented kids. We do not just hope, but we dream to change the lives of Kazakhstani boys and support Kazakhstani football on the whole.

– Tell us what is the most difficult in the Zhas Kyran development?
B.K.: Perhaps the fact that not in all regions with whom we worked to promote Zhas Kyran, we find understanding. Some of the Akims are easy to reach an agreement on cooperation with, like for example Daniyal Kenzhetaevich (Akhmetov – edit. PROSPORT Kazakhstan), Krymbek Eleuovich (Kusherbayev – edit. PROSPORT Kazakhstan ), or Berdibek Mashbekovich (Saparbayev – edit. PROSPORT Kazakhstan). They immediately understood our idea and eagerly accepted it. But in some regions the case is not so easy. And it may not be about the chief executives but the sports management who has not yet embraced the problem – the problem of reserve training and the need to build the mass scale of the sports.

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