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Zenit announces creation of women's team

Russian powerhouse, Zenit announced the creation of a women’s football team

January 21, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
The Russian Women’s Football Championship will have a new addition in Zenit St. Petersburg as announced on the team’s official website on January 21.

Ex-Russian footballer Olga Poryadina has been appointed head coach of the team that already has high expectations even before playing its first official match.

“We are realists and know a team is not built in one season,” Zenit Director General Alexander Medvedev said. “But we want Zenit’s women to be at the top of the league within one or two seasons.”

According to the statement released on Zenit’s website, Poryadina, 39, is a promising coach and well-known for her long career as a defender. She spent her whole career playing in the Russian Women’s Football Championship and represented the Russian women’s national team in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2009. Poryadina and her coaching staff have the task to engage with young female footballers in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region to keep homegrown talent at Zenit.

As for logistics, the board has decided that it is best to have the men’s and women’s teams training side by side at the Gazprom Training Centre at Udelny Park. The training facility has enough pitches to comfortably carry out practices. The women’s youth team will train at the Gazprom Academy. 

“The fact that both teams will train side by side will allow them to share their football knowledge and experience,” Medvedev said. “I’ve spoken with Sergei Semak (Zenit’s men’s head coach) on this subject and he will also help out with the women’s team as much as he can.”

Zenit is a bit late to the party. The Russian Women’s Football Championship, also known as Top Division, was founded in 1992. In 2010, the competition was ranked eighth amongst leagues in Europe according to the women’s association club coefficients reports of that year. The league’s performance has dropped since as it is now ranked 14th. Zenit’s women’s team implementation to the league will help change that statistic soon. 

“Unfortunately, in Russia, the sport has not been developing at such speed (other European nations), but Russian Federation Union bosses are backing the development of women’s football,” Medvedev said. “We’ve created a women’s football team and will aim for the Russian championship title.”

This ambition and sense of competition – with money involved – is what turns an average league to an exciting one to watch. Zenit’s women’s team will participate in the upcoming and 29th edition of the Russian top-flight. 

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