Russian football authorities show there are no barriers to achieving one’s dream

Dmitry Korchagin, who has cerebral palsy, has recently started working for the Russian Football Union.

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A new employee started work at the Russian Football Union’s (RFS) department of political information in October - Dmitry Korchagin from Kazan – a 20-year-old second-year law student at the city’s university.

It would seem that this was nothing out of the ordinary, but there was one slight difference – Dmitry lives with cerebral palsy, and is a wheelchair user.

"The Russian media wrote a story about me, and I told them I support FC Rubin Kazan and the Russian national team," Dmitry said. "The RFS then got in contact with me, and I was invited to attend a training session at the Kazan Arena before Russia’s friendly match against Iran.

Dmitry will write analytical articles for the RFS
Dmitry will write analytical articles for the RFS©RFS

"I spoke to the players and the head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, as well as those in charge of the RFS. It seems as though they remembered our meeting. I did not expect that the general secretary of the organisation, Aleksandr Alaev, would invite me to work there full-time."

Since 15 October, Korchagin has been employed by the RFS. However, he has not had to relocate to Moscow from Kazan – a city which is some 700 kilometres east of the Russian capital. Instead, Dmitry is able to send all his material by email.

His main task is to monitor the main events taking place, as well as write analytical reports. He is also responsible for interviewing players and coaches. His involvement does not just extend to football – he has also been given the task of providing information about beach football and futsal. He publishes around two articles a week, but this amount is likely to increase in the coming months. One of Dmitry’s next tasks will be to conduct an interview with Cherchesov.

"After hearing about Dmitry and the battles he has faced, we welcomed him with open arms to come and work at the Russian Football Union," said Alaev. "This is a person who loves football and dreams about dedicating his life to this. He writes really well about football. I know that the players and coaches have read his material on the RFS’s website. I hope that we will work together for the considerable future."

Given Dmitry’s love of football and his willingness to learn about different aspects of the game, Alaev added that it was an easy decision to invite the 20-year-old Kazan native to come and work for Russian football’s governing body.

RFS General Secretary Aleksandr Alaev invited Dmitry to work for the organisation
RFS General Secretary Aleksandr Alaev invited Dmitry to work for the organisation©RFS

"By inviting Dmitry, the RFS wants to show that we are open and willing to interact with everyone who likes football," said Alaev. "A person’s condition should not get in the way of them realising their dream and in this respect, everyone should have the same opportunities."

‘Love of football’

According to Korchagin, his love of football is in his genes. His father and brother both played the game, while his sibling even graduated from a football academy, which was led by the former FC Spartak Moskva midfielder Robert Evdokimov. While physically playing the sport is a challenge for Dmitry, he enjoys nothing more than playing football on the computer with his brother.

"In Europe, I have supported Manchester United FC since I was a child," said Dmitry, who was born in Kazakhstan, but moved to the capital of Tatarstan at the age of three. "When we got cable television, I could watch games from the 1990s in the English Premier League. I saw how the likes of Eric Cantona, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers performed. Currently, my favourite player is David de Gea."

Working at the RFS is Dmitry’s first job – until now, he has dedicated most of his time to his studies. He specialises in civil law, but wants to start studying sports law. It is possible in a couple of years’ time that he could move to study in Moscow.

"I want to become a sports manager," Dmitry revealed. "Of course in future, I would welcome the opportunity to work for the RFS in their legal department."

For now, Dmitry’s attention is focused on next summer’s FIFA World Cup which Russia will host, but in the long term, he will be looking to continue to show that a disability is no barrier to achieving one’s dream.