Pouliotopoulos: «PAOK B is a big priority and the club is betting on it»
For people who have dedicated their lives to developmental football, the most difficult time is when it is time for them to decide. To decide who stays, who leaves, who is loaned out to stay active, and who has the prospects to move up to the first team.
It’s a realistic and necessary situation, if extremely difficult, however, in all respects. The well-structured transitional stage for these players is what PAOK has always been looking for. The club believes in it, supported the idea of a B team, and now the team expects to reap the rewards.
For the general manager of the PAOK Academy Vangelis Pourliotopoulos, the creation of PAOK B as a reservoir of talent that would ‘absorb’ and continue the football education of young players who have been brought up at PAOK and can no longer participate in the Under-19 squad has always been a key goal. Knowing all the difficulties and parameters, Pourliotopoulos has been talking about creating a base for a Greek football school since 2007. The restart during the Savvidis era obviously set the bar very high. Over the years, he promoted the PAOK Academy and created a plethora of talented young footballers who now adorn the squad of the PAOK first team, but also in other clubs across Europe.
«If we want to be cynical, no matter how difficult it is for us to work with children and teenagers, the bet is to promote those who can stand out at the next level,» says Pourliotopoulos. He does not hesitate to say that especially since 2016 the creation of PAOK B was for him, and PAOK of course, a big priority. «For years now we have been promoting this initiative and we are now in the happy position of the finalization of the B teams in the Super League 2. We are looking forward with great interest to a championship that will give impetus to our young players, who will cut their teeth and learn the ways of the so-called requirements of men’s football.»
Pourliotopoulos can understandably only express his satisfaction and pride for the young players who are currently in the first team, and he states that he has high expectations from PAOK B. «Covering the transitional stage from the youth championship to the first team is what we were always looking for. The presence of children trained from when they were «babies» at PAOK, the return of our players who were tested elsewhere on loan – when they were could no longer play at the Academy, and the security of an experienced and capable coaching team – imbued with the educational philosophy of PAOK Academy – generates expectations and hopes,» he emphasizes.
There is, of course, according Pourliotopoulos, a new condition that arises from the creation of PAOK B. «PAOK B, the Under-19s – and this in turn with K17 – and under certain conditions, players who now belong to the senior team squad, have to function in some way as communicating vessels,» he emphasizes, and concludes: «With the proper management required by the new situation, I believe that we will only gain from a proper process of flow of our players between our various departments.»