Meet our UK Boarding School team: Football Captain
Ivan comes from St Petersburg, Russia and has been studying at Saint Michael’s for over two years. An avid fan of his hometown football team Zenit St Petersburg with whom he trained as a young child, Ivan has taken inspiration from his heroes and tried to create a winning mentality amongst his teammates.
His football skills and displays of leadership on the pitch during the last academic year led to his appointment as team captain for the 2015-16 season. This year the team has started playing very well, winning a number of games against other local colleges and boarding schools in the UK. With the annual ISSA tournament forming the major sporting event on the calendar at Saint Michael’s, it is crucial that the team play in as many fixtures as possible early on during the first term. These early games ensure players begin gelling well as a team early on and it is also a time for Ivan to work with football coach Simon Price to try out some different tactics.
The ISSA tournament takes place each year in a different location somewhere in Europe. Of all the teams that participate, Saint Michael’s is often the smallest boarding school in the UK to make the journey. With fewer students to choose from than most other boarding schools in the UK and across Europe, the team often do very well and have even played tournaments in the past without any substitutions on the bench.
Here we interview Ivan about the current season and his expectations going ahead.
Interviewer: Firstly Ivan, why did you decide to study at a boarding school in the UK?
“I made the decision to study at a boarding school in the UK because of the benefits that a British education provides. Like many Russians my ambition was to attend a British university and I felt that it was better to start my education earlier by attending a boarding school in the UK. This way I could improve my English and become accustomed to the British education system.
Interviewer: as a team from a small boarding school in the UK what are the main challenges you face when playing against some of the teams from bigger schools across the continent?
“The main challenge is selecting the team to play in official games and tournaments. For instance, bigger boarding schools in the UK and across Europe have 4 or 5 times more students than us, which makes their selection process more competitive as students know they must play very well each week to keep their place.
Also, as students come from very far away to study at Saint Michaels they sometimes have different priorities to British students. We have frequent examinations to monitor our progress and often students will want to study rather than train with the football team. It’s difficult to try to motivate students to practice for future matches when they are so focussed on their studies. Although this can be frustrating, it is only natural for students who have travelled a long way to study at a prestigious boarding school in the UK to want to prioritise their exams over football.
Interviewer: When playing a friendly do you prefer playing in home fixtures or away at another college or boarding school in the UK?
“For me personally, I prefer the away fixtures because every match is a new and exciting experience. We have the opportunity to meet many friendly British students and other international students who are representing other boarding schools in the UK. These games are also very good for building our confidence as we have to travel without our fans, which prepares us well for the international tournament we compete in each year. Also, the bus journeys are always fun as our football coach Simon keeps us all entertained with his humour.”
Interviewer: Would you recommend joining a sports team to other international students planning to study at a boarding school in the UK? If so, why?
“I would strongly recommend any international student to join a team sport when moving to a boarding school in the UK as it teaches you many important things: Teamwork, communication techniques and how to apply analytical and diplomatic skills in real life. It’s also a great way to make long-lasting friendships and speak even more English.