By Yuri Kovalev
Despite his extremely busy schedule, Mr. Platini found time to visit Belarus, taking a special charter flight to spend half a day at an official celebration dedicated to the anniversary of Belarusian football.
He placed a time capsule in the foundations of the Centre of Belarusian National Football Team Training, which is being constructed with financial support from FIFA and UEFA. It is to boast two artificial fields and one natural grass field, with lighting and heating equipment. A hotel is planned nearby, accommodating a rehabilitation centre and rooms for theoretical classes. Our Belarusian football squads will enjoy comfortable training conditions, with the facilities used by other Belarusian football clubs and junior teams when the main team is playing away.
During the official celebrations, a blitz-tournament was held nearby, for eight children’s teams from Minsk’s football schools. The winners were awarded prizes by Mr. Platini, who noted his happiness at seeing tomorrow’s star footballers. This is not his first visit to Minsk and he noted with satisfaction that Belarus now boasts many great football achievements, such as defeating France in the Euro-2012 qualifying round. “You beat France, despite lacking a specialised training centre; I wonder what you might achieve when you have one…” joked the legendary football player.
The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Belarusian football began in August in Gomel, since it was there that the first football match was hosted in Belarus. A number of tournaments have been held countrywide, played by children and veterans, promoting the beautiful game more widely.
Numerous foreign guests arrived in Minsk to congratulate their Belarusian football colleagues, including heads of football federations: Holland’s Michael van Praag, Russia’s Sergey Fursenko, Ukraine’s Grigoriy Surkis, and those from other countries.