Trip to Russian national football team’s training base as prize for winners

A meeting with idols, autograph signing and video clip shoot: who winners of a children’s contest from TAIF JSC and the Russian Football Union spent a day with the national football team

10 medallists and three winners — this is the result of a corporate contest among children of TAIF Group companies’ workers for the best video address with wishes in support of the Russian national football team in upcoming UEFA League of Nations matches. The contest was held by TAIF and the Russian Football Union All-Russian Public Organisation. Finalists of the contest will receive memorable merchandise of the national team, while the winners got a chance of visiting the training base, meeting legends of Russian football and participating in video shooting. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Do you like football?

“Do you like football? Do you root for the team Russia at stadiums and in front of TV screens? Do you dream of your support being heard by your favourite players of the Russian national football team? If so, your dream can soon become a reality!” TAIF Group sent such an address to the employees’ children and grandchildren in September. All one had to do to get prizes from the national team and, ideally, go to Moscow to meet one’s idols was so shoot a brief (no more than 30 seconds) but bright, emotional and sincere address to players of the national team.

A lot of video addresses from Tatarstan boys and girls from 5 to 13 years were submitted for approval of the joint jury (TAIF, RFU and the staff of Russia’s football squad) within a week, this is for how long the contest lasted. 13 prize winners who chosen in hot debates and discussions. These are the finalists:

  • Vladimir Sharonov (7 years), TGC-16 JSC;
  • Artur Baskov (8 years), TGC-16 JSC ;
  • Marsel Dorozhkin (13 years), TGC-16 JSC;
  • Amaliya Mirzamakhmutova (7 years), TGC-16 JSC;
  • Amina Shakirzyanova (7 years), Kazanorgsintez PJSC;
  • Ilyas Yamilov (11 years), TAIF-NK JSC;
  • Ramil Yakupov (10 years), TAIF-NK JSC;
  • Kamila Mubarakova (9 years), TAIF-NK JSC;
  • Artyom Gerasimov, (9 years), TAIF-NK Petrol Station JSC;
  • Mikhail Nikulov (8 years), Tulpar Air PLC.

Everybody will receive prizes — memorable merchandise of the Russian national football team. And authors of the three best works headed to Novogorsk where they were going to meet with idols at the national squad’s training base — players of Russia’s football team.

Only victory!

These are the names of three lucky children who arrived in Moscow on 5 October morning and headed towards their dream. Representatives of the Russian Football Union welcomed them at the airport and did their best to make the Tatarstan guests’ trip comfortable and interesting.

  • Amir Osipov (11 years), Novy Vek TV and Radio Company JSC;
  • Gordey Smolenkov (11 years), Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC;
  • Elina Khabibullina (10 years), TAIF JSC.

“I juggled with the ball, then wished only victory. Why did I win the contest? I just put all my soul into the words. And my dad helped to shoot and edit,” one of the winners of the contest Amir Osipov shared with Realnoe Vremya’s journalist.

“I am myself a football fan and glad to come here thanks to my son’s victory and see both the training and life of the Russian team outside the pitch this way, so close. Such contests as the one TAIF JSC held are necessary in general. It is a great opportunity to get children interested in football. Also, it is experience of shooting, working with the camera, an ocean of impressions and emotions. I think the players will also be pleased to see their young fans especially now when games have to be played with empty stands because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And here they have shining children’s eyes. And only three winners, plus their parents came. While the number of competitors was bigger. Several teams can be made with the bench of subs,” father of the young fan Albert Osipov doesn’t hide his emotions.

“I want to see Artyom Dzyuba, Denis Cheryshev, Guilherme...” Amir enumerated obviously trying not to forget anybody.

“I certainly need to ask head coach Cherchesov to sign an autograph as well,” Albert adds. The Osipovs arrived in Novogorsk well-armed: with a good stock of photos of both the full squad and every player separately. They were a hundred per cent ready for an autograph signing.

“I will hang them on the walls at home, and maybe take to school to show to my classmates,” Amir shared his plans.

“I wished luck, victory and no injuries in my address to Russia’s national team players. It was a bit hard to fit everything in 30 seconds but we managed. My mom helped me. She works at Neftekhim Media,” Gordey Smolenkov said.

It is noteworthy that the Smolenkovs family has two football fans: Gordey and his dad Dmitry. But his mom Yevgeniya went to see the national team.

“Our dad tried to go to this trip instead of me, to be honest, but Gordey said: ‘Mom helped to prepare the video, shot the address, it means she will go,” Yevgeniya Smolenkova who was obviously proud of both the victory and her son’s support said.

They promised their dad to bring greetings from Dzyuba and also promised his classmates an autograph from Cheryshev. Gordey decided to collect as many autographs as possible.

“I will hang them on the wall at home. My hockey sweatshirt is already there. I am a hockey player who loves football. I also play football in summer. I go to the football pitch to Petrochemists’ Park every day. I hope to add my medals to the collection with time. Though I already have some awards,” Gordey said.

Elina Khabibullina is the only girl in the team of the winners in the contest but she will take the lead in the amount of knowledge about football life in the republic, country and the world. She took the video address shooting seriously.

“The team has to play to empty stands because of the pandemic, this is why I wished them to stay positive and smile more often,” the young fan explains.

She brought her grandma Gulsina to meet with her favourite team.

“My dad Rinat is the biggest fan in our family. But he didn’t manage to go, he is working, while my grandma managed to come to an agreement at work to come with me. We didn’t prepare photos and posters beforehand but we have a pen and a notebook — it has enough pages for the whole team,” Elina shared.

Superintense day

If on Monday, the day of arrival, the guests from Tatarstan just did a mandatory COVID-19 test (the training centre’s visiting rules strictly require every visitor to have a recently issued certificate saying there is no novel coronavirus infection) and got acquainted with Khimki, on Tuesday, 6 October, they couldn’t be bored even for a minute. The arrival in the training base was scheduled so that they could get to the team’s training on time. The children and their parents were accommodated in the stands, and they saw the whole training process in front of them.

“From below, pass at the bottom!”, “Don’t hold the ball. Up and pass it. Work through Dzyuba!”, “Maga, not yourself, through Cheryshev!” (this is why Cherchesov restrained Rubin’s ex-player Magomed Ozdoyev who loves spending time with the ball), “Where are you passing? No ball beyond this line! One is serving, three — in the 11-metre area, two are backing up!” the Russian football players improved the tactics of their game with Sweden with the coaching staff’s advice. This week was to be rich in events: a friendly with Sweden on 8 October, a game with the Turkish team on 11 October, a battle with Hungary on 14 October. Every opponent requires a separate approach.

“Now I am standing and understand: it is very interesting to see it personally. The tasks the coach is setting now are rocket science for me. I thought it to be easy — they appeared on the pitch and played. It is just necessary to feel the ball and teammates. While here goals, tasks, trajectories are set...” Gulsina Khabibullina shared her impressions.

“This is why one needs maths in life!” Elina supported her grandma. It was senseless to ask Amir and Gordey questions at that moment: the boys literally glued themselves to the fence of the spectators’ stands.

“Gosh, he fought off three shots in a row! I haven’t even narrowed my eyes, how can he see the ball?” they were amazed by goalie Marinato Guilherme’s work.

“I can’t believe that: Cherchesov managed to see the whole pitch and every player at the same time like an orchestra conductor. What a voice does he have! He doesn’t seem to be shouting, while his commands are heard at every corner,” adults discussed head coach Stanislav Cherchesov’s work in the meanwhile.

Immediately after the training ended, the guests took photos with the team’s foreigners and were given autographs. The hosts — workers of the Russian Football Union — made sure of pleasing the young fans in advance. T-shirts of the Russian national football team and balls — the T-shirts the team is playing with — as well as the foreigners and whole team’s photos became a surprise. The head coach himself was the first to see the young fans. Though he is strict and concentrated on the pitch, he couldn’t hide a smile here:

“Want an autograph? Sure. Come here. What do you want? A photo? Who wants me to sign an autograph? Elina, Amir, Gordey... On the ball as well? Come on! Wait! Where are you running? Won’t we take a photo?” he stopped the guests of the team that were completely confused.

“Look, look, Mario Fernandes,” Gordey who knows every player of the squad pulled new his friends, Elina and Amir, to the player. Several seconds later, everybody’s ball had another signature of the legend of Russian football. While Amir additionally got an autograph signed on the football player’s photo.

At that moment, Daniil Fomin, Andrey Mostovoy, Zelimkhan Bakayev, Daler Kuzyayev left the training pitch merrily talking about something. They responded with encouragement to a petition to sign autographs. The only problem was that there were four players and just three balls for signatures. They fixed it: they made a queue. What a photo did they take! It is a dream of any football fan!

Here both the young Tatarstan children and their parents managed to get not only long-awaited signatures but also talk with the players. It felt like both sides liked the dialogue: both the fans and the football players who have missed fans during the pandemic.

Amir’s dream of a personal photo with Denis Cheryshev also came true. The winger of Spanish Valencia as well as his Russian national teammates agreed to sign an autograph and spend a minute to pose with the Kazan boy with pleasure.

Gordey Smolenkov also will be able to add a series of photos with autographs of Russia’s national team players and photos he is pictured with them in to the collection on the wall in his room, including a photo with Marinato Guilherme — the one at whose fearlessness he was amazed with during the training.

Elina Khabibullina also has a photo with the goalkeeper in her collection. The girl didn’t give way to the boys when they were given autographs. One of the key issues every young fan will have is where to place the balls that now can be called only unique at home. A handful has such balls adorned with signatures of almost the whole squad.

While the players continued their training, the winners of the contest held by TAIF and the Russian Football Union went on a mini-excursion to the training centre.

“During the pandemic, it was impossible to have traditional camps, this is why all training processes took place here. We have all we need for this purpose: sports halls in case of bad weather, open pitches with natural grass, gyms, a swimming pool, convenient changing rooms and a hotel,” representatives of the RFU explained during the excursion.

By the evening, the young fans from Tatarstan participated in shooting a real video. The content and script of the video is still a secret even for the players of the team who took part in the shooting. The football players were invited to the site only when scenes with them were shot. The premiere of the video will be UEFA League of Nations games on Channel One and on the screen at stadiums that will host the games.

Happy Amir, Gordey and Elina went back to Tatarstan in the evening. One can be sure that there will be a lot of emotions in their stories about such a short trip rich in events, while the photos with idols and their autographs will cause admiration. It means that there will be more young fans in front of TV screens these days. And though the Russian national team has to play to empty stands now, they will certainly feel their fans’ support and make every effort to justify it.

“Friends, we know you root for us, we always feel it. We are especially glad that young fans support us. Important League of Nations matches await us. Sadly, they won’t have spectators, the stands will be empty. But it is anyway important for us to hear you!” head coach of team Russia Stanislav Cherchesov stressed the importance and necessity of the initiative of TAIF JSC and the Russian Football Union. It is important for the national team’s players to feel the support of fans as for fans to see their idols.

By Arseny Favstritsky

Подписывайтесь на телеграм-канал, группу «ВКонтакте» и страницу в «Одноклассниках» «Реального времени». Ежедневные видео на Rutube, «Дзене» и Youtube.


A partnership agreement between TAIF JSC and Russian Football Union All-Russian Public Organisation was signed in December 2019. According to the document, TAIF JSC was awarded the title of Partner of the Russian Football Union in Development of Football in Regions.