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Numonjon Yusupov: Tajik star in the Penza sky

Interview with the head coach of the Spartak Junior football school in Penza.

Photo: Penza Mass media, the official VKontakte page of the Spartak Junior school, the official website of the Football Federation of Tajikistan.

There are many football schools in Penza, both private and municipal. But few can boast that in her staff the position of head coach is occupied by a person who has worked with top-division clubs that participated in international tournaments. And not only working, but also achieving results. So, let's get acquainted: Numonjon Makhmadulloevich Yusupov – the head coach of the Spartak Junior football school in Penza, the master of sports of Tajikistan in football. He has an international coaching license of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) category A and a license of the RFU coach of the category C. Married, three children.

Playing career:
1991-1997 – FC Sitora (Dushanbe). Titles: 1993, 1994 – Champion of Tajikistan.
1993 – Winner of the Cup of Tajikistan.
Played for the Olympic team of Tajikistan.

1999-2003 – children's coach at the Football Federation of Tajikistan.
2004-2012 – head coach of the youth team of Tajikistan.
2012-2013 – head coach of the youth team Istiklol (Dushanbe).
2013 – senior coach of the main team Istiklol (Dushanbe).
2014-2016 – head coach of FC Khujand (Khujand).
2016 – head coach of FC Istiklol. Victory in the championship and the Cup of Tajikistan.
2018-2019 – head coach of FC Khujand. 2nd place in the championship of Tajikistan and getting into the group stage of the AFC Cup.

Numonjon Mahmadulloevich, the first question suggests itself. Why did one of the most famous specialists in Tajikistan move, to put it mildly, not to the most football-friendly Penza?

Firstly, I am proud that I moved to your great country and received citizenship. To be honest, when I submitted documents to the Russian Embassy in Tajikistan, they were also surprised how a coach of such a level, with such experience, with such achievements, goes to an unknown football city. And I answered that, except for Penza, I have no relatives anywhere with whom I could stay and live for a while. So I came here, which I do not regret. Penza, though small, but very beautiful city with kind, hospitable people. Here I met people with whom it is pleasant to communicate, including the director of our school, Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Krivoshein, and his wife, Olga Vladimirovna. They always support me in every way.

When you moved, did you think that you would work in football, or how would it work out?

I hoped. I went with the goal of working in Russian football, and not just getting citizenship and working anywhere. I have been in football for 30 years, since 1990.First as a professional player, and since 2000 as a coach. And thank God that I am now working in my profession, at the Spartak Junior school. I get great pleasure.

Let's move on to your career. After all, you have won almost all the awards that are in Tajik football?

Yes, I started my career in the Sitora team from Dushanbe. It was at a time when a civil war was going on in Tajikistan from 1991 to 1997. But even in such difficult times, the football championship was going on in the country. It so happened that all 16 major league teams were financed by field commanders. But during the games, everyone forgot about the war, everyone watched football, the fans enjoyed football. And the players played confidently, they were not afraid for their lives that you would win or lose, and anything could happen. The teams were fully provided with equipment, we were paid good money. The field commanders had good sources of funding, but from where, how – it did not concern us, we are football players, we must play. Sitora twice became the champion, took the cup and 2 times participated in the Commonwealth Cup in Moscow. But in 1997 I got a serious injury (broken ankle) and was treated for 2 years. He recovered, went out on the field and got injured again. The leg did not give rest, and I ended my playing career. How did you get into coaching? First, I trained the guys in the yard, went out, suggested some technical elements to them. And I liked it, it went right into my soul that I want to be a coach. I created a team, gathered 15-16 yard guys. I had acquaintances in the federation, and I turned to the children's department that I want to create a football school. He studied at coaching courses, gradually received licenses from C to A. First, in the backup team, then as an assistant in the major leagues, since 2009, as the head coach in the club of the first league. Year by year I gained experience, added, studied at international courses in Russia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Thailand. They invited me to lead the youth team of Tajikistan, under 14 and under 16, and we achieved good success in Asian tournaments. And since 2013, they began to invite to the leading clubs of the major league. With Istiklol we won the championship and the Cup, and with the team Khujand (in Russian transcription Khojent – ed.) We became silver medalists and advanced to the group stage of the AFC Cup. This is the Asian equivalent of the Europa League. And then I could not work with the team because of disagreements with the club's management. To be honest, I lost the desire to work with these people. And in June 2019, I decided to move to the Russian Federation.

Khujand – the oldest club in the country, enjoys incredible support from the fans. Is there a comparison with Spartak here?

Yes, it can be compared with the traditions of Spartak. Khujand is a national team that has been participating in the major league championship for 30 years. This is the only team in Tajikistan that exists on the money of taxpayers, at the expense of the regional budget.And, to be honest, the fan decides a lot there: whom to put, whom to clean. The opinion of very devoted fans affects many issues. They can go to the leadership of the region, to push, if you work incorrectly, remove. And Khujand is a very beautiful city on the Syr Darya River, therefore, taking this opportunity, I invite you to visit the northern capital of Tajikistan, and you will definitely fall in love with this city!

In general, we can say that football is sport No. 1 in Tajikistan?

Yes it is. This has gone since Soviet times, when the whole republic provided Pamir, when people came from all cities to root for the team. Our stadium contained 20 thousand, and there was no place for the bird to sit. We arrived on the day of the game in the morning, there Komsomolskoye Lake, the park is large, so that they came, cut the rams, fried barbells, sat, rested. 2 hours before the start, people filled the stadium, in 2 hours! The teams have not arrived at the stadium, and here they are already screaming, getting sick. Pamir did not have the right to lose at home, both Spartak and Dynamo Kiev won. And when we went to the Premier League, it was such a holiday! I will never forget this. And there was also a story with a man who collected at the stadium a bottle of lemonade. So, after 5 or 6 games, he bought a car with this money (laughs).

They also tell stories when the Central Asian teams offered guests all sorts of treats, fruits, Pepsi-Cola, and then they could not play.

We have fruits, melons, watermelons are natural products, and there are a pleasure. Yes, I heard that the teams the day before the game were taken to the Varzob gorge, to the mountains, they fed, treated it. Everything is tasty, and the teams from Russia and Ukraine could eat a lot, and then it was hard to run.

Let's go back to the Spartak Junior football school. How are training, what is the most important thing now in the first stage?

The main thing is not to scream at the guys, not to crush, it is necessary that at the first stage they enjoy them to fall in love with the game. To select such exercises for them so that there is no excessive tension, because they have not yet mastered the ABC of football: reception, conduct, pass, blow. Through outdoor games, make it so that they are interesting and difficult. Some boys are very gifted, as if they were born football players. The main thing then to keep them so that they develop, so that they understand that you will not achieve anything with one talent without hard work. Therefore, preparation for training is very thorough, it is necessary that the children enjoy the game, wait for the next lesson. Now they have such an age that nothing can be missed, later you will not return it. And, of course, I really want more guys to have more, so that you can equip the composition and participate in competitions. Then the disadvantages will be visible, the elimination of which we will carefully and carefully work. I think this is a matter of time!

In the conclusion of our conversation, what would you like to wish readers of the Penza Media Internet portal?

In this difficult time, I would like to wish everyone good health! Take care of yourself, play sports. And I also wanted to wish the children to love football and come to our school Spartak Junior.

Thank you! Well, we wish the school prosperity, and you personally success in the difficult field of coaching.