The House of PAOK Academy
Your home is where your heart is, where what brings you together with your fellow housemates is much more important than anything else. Home is also where you look forward to returning to. It’s your shelter, your routine, your security. At PAOK,this is as aspect where the club aims high, especially for the very young and impressionable ages of the players training with the Double-headed Eagle. The idea is clear, to create the atmosphere of a family support system for our young players.
As much as the institution of family has been damaged nowadays, its existence is essential, as well as a broader meaning of the term «home», which remains something vital. This is exactly the reason why PAOK created the House of the PAOK Academy. After all, investments aimed at a better future have always been the chief concern of Ivan Savvidis. The club’s president confirms this in each and every move he makes, without a great deal of fanfare or noise. Everything at PAOK is built methodically, guided by the development of the club.
The interest and importance that Mr. Savvidis displays in the club’s youth setup is a given. His innovative initiative to provide the club’s young players, who until recently lived in the hostels in Thessaloniki, a seven-storey building in the center of the city, with a proper “home”, has obviously put the development of the PAOK Academy on the right track. The building, which once housed the «Efxinos Leschi» on Vasilissis Olgas Street, has since 2015 been transformed into PAOK Academy House. It was leased by the club in order to ensure that the team’s young players would have the appropriate accommodation and living conditions for those who have left their families behind to come to Thessaloniki on behalf of PAOK.
About 45 to 55 children are housed there (in the 2022-23 season there are 47) who are part of PAOK’s development squads and in the past they either lived in hostels – as their families are far away – or in apartments rented by the club. Now these lucky kids are all under one roof, together. They have everything they need. A proper program, proper nutrition, medical care, psychological support, tutoring, and buses that take them to the stadium where they train, as well as a state-of-the-art gym. Most of all, though, they enjoy security, stability, and routine. Something that is often taken for granted in these strange times.
These lucky players are all under one roof and all their needs are met. Training programs, nutrition, medical care, school courses, buses to take them to and from the training grounds, security. Grigoris Karavelis, who was all along in charge of the project, used to declare himself extremely satisfied and has always been convinced that PAOK Academy Home will prove an even bigger boost for the young footballers. He was right, of course. And now that he decided to «rest» – Dora Caraolani has taken in charge – he can be at least proud of what he is leaving behind.
The building (1.260 sq.metres – 180 sq.metres by floor) was recently renovated and is ideal for children as it was built as a students’ house. When all work is completed, including a new gym, it will be the perfect setting to bring up young athletes.
There is a recreation centre on the 7th floor, next to the kitchen. There are bedrooms in four floors, along with a medical examination room, the headquarters of the manager and four classrooms. The Junior and Senior High School are located nearby. The young players go to and from trainings with a team bus of course. Distances are reduced, time is saved and daily schedule is kept unswervingly.
For the proper running of the house, there are also 10 people employed, along with the doctors and teachers: four guards working 24-7, two cleaning ladies, two cooks, a janitor and a waiter.
- Efxinos Club of Thessaloniki is the oldest club of Pontiacs in the country. The building on Vasilisis Olga Street, leased by PAOK, was a former boarding house for students.