Young footballers cross fingers for Russia to host World Cup
A team of FIFA officials arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday, kicking-off their assessment of the Russia's bid to host the tournament in 2018.
The delegation is headed by FIFA Inspection Committee Chairman Harold Mayne-Nicholls from Chile.
And the trainees at the Spartak Moscow's Youth Academy want the World Cup in Russia more than anything.
“I really want Russia to host the 2018 World Cup – it's the purpose of my life. If we keep working hard, we have a good chance of making the team,” says young Boris Tsigankov.
Like many other boys at Spartak Moscow's Youth Academy trains every single day. Pressure that would make others of their age crumble. But for them football is life. They are just 12 years old, and if the World Cup comes to Russia in 2018, the hopes and expectations of the nation will rest on their shoulders.
Discipline and desire are essential, but it is not the fear of failure that drives them, it is the fear of missing the chance to play in a World Cup on home turf.
And training is no walk in the park. Before they can even touch the ball, they must endure a punishing non-stop fitness routine for the first hour. The coaches know the boys have talent, but it is their hunger that is the key.
Gennady Logofet is no stranger to that, he knows what it takes to play in a World Cup. He was a defender for the USSR in the 1970 championship.
“I was gripped by a burning desire to see the world. But how could I do that in those days? So I told myself that I would be a football player. I pledged that never in my life would I smoke a cigarette or drink a gram of wine or beer,” he recalls.
Gennady never had the chance to play in a World Cup at home. But he knows it is something not to be missed.
“Playing in front of your own fans, hearing the whole country's support behind you is something you can't beat. As a footballer, you want nothing else. I never got the chance, but if these boys do, it'll change their lives,” he believes.
Football is a matter of national pride in Russia. Fans hope their support will swing FIFA's vote.
Aleksandr Shprigin, president of the Russian Supporters' Association believes, “A World Cup at home would give the youth coaches an added impetus, so that by 2018 they'll raise several talented young players to defend the honor of Russian football with the emblems of Russia on their chests.”
And that is the only thing the boys at Spartak Moscow's Youth Academy are dreaming of.