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Friday Feature: Head of Football

3rd March 2023

Please give us a brief introduction to who you are, your background and interests etc.

My name is Sergei Baltacha and I was born in Ukraine, in the beautiful city of Mariupol. From an early age I played football in my free time as well as studying. At 13 I was nominated the best centre forward and scorer at a national football competition and was selected by scouts to join a football academy in Kharkiv. I was coached by some of the best football children’s coaches in the world who helped me reach top professional level.

Why King Edward’s Witley and what’s your vision for the Football programme here?

At 17, I was selected by Dynamo Kyiv scout to move there once I had finished my education. At 18 I had my debut for a local team, Metalist Kharkiv as I played for them before finishing School. At 18 I also completed my education and finished the Academy and signed for FC Dynamo Kyiv. My first team debut was at 20 and I played for this club for 12 years. The Manager of this club was Valeriy Lobanovskyi, who was one of the best coaches in the football world.

I came to the United Kingdom after playing for Dynamo Kyiv as I was signed to Ipswich FC, St Johnstone FC. After my football career as a player, I began my managing and coaching career at Caledonian Thistle FC. In addition, I am a family-based man who loves football and loves to help develop better football players, as well as making them a better person.

After 19 years, I felt like I need a new challenge therefore it brought me to King Edward’s Witley. After a couple days interview and viewing of the school, all my expectations were met and exceeded due to the amazing and professional staff, strong leadership, the caring environment created and the schools’ facilities.

My vision for the football programme I want to build here is to give my knowledge and experience to the KESW pupils, to learn not only football skills but also life skills, which will help them in the future. Also, in my vision I will implement my philosophy into KESW to allow winning of games and competitions, but also winning with dignity and respect for the opponents. Most importantly I want us to create for all the pupils a happy and safe environment, deliver quality football training sessions for them all to enjoy with a smile on their faces.

Tell us more about your time as a world class footballer.

I was lucky enough to play for so long at the top level of football with and against the best players in the world, such as Diego Maradona, Gary Lineker, Ian Rush, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Michel Platini, Karl-Heinz Rummennigge, Bryan Robson, Kenny Dalglish. I also won many medals and played at some of the best competitions such as the Olympic Games, World Cup, European Championship, Champions League. During my career I learned that it’s all about working hard, being honest with yourself and your mates, respect coaches, in which together you create the right environment, and keeping a healthy balance between hard training, proper rest, good diet and education.

Anything else you’d like to share with our community?

As you know, I am Ukrainian and I would just like to say a massive thank you to the community for the support towards Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, since it is a very hard time for my country currently, and I know you are helping. Thanks again.

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