A Soviet couple has reformed a group of teenage "tough guys" by recruiting them for the country's first American-style football team, but some conservative townsfolk still view the club with distrust, the official Tass news agency reported.
Tass tackled the subject of the Chelyabinsk Federals in a long report last week that included lessons in such topics as superpower relations, the introduction of democracy, crime control and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms.
The Chelyabinsk Federals are more than just a story of American football coming to the southern Urals, according to Tass.
Tatyana Kovrigin, a cook, and her factory worker husband, Alexander, founded the club this year as a way to channel the energies of some of the town's more notorious teenagers.
"Not long ago the Kovrigins won thanks from the regional militia department. The thing is rowdy neighborhoods became more quiet due to the fact that most of the `menacing' teenage leaders joined the Federals. The team is comprised mostly of `tough guys' who already had run-ins with the law," Tass said.
"The nucleus is composed of those teenagers who failed to get interested in any other sports or cultural activities. As for American football, which brings out strength and dexterity, a combination of individual action with team tactics, it managed to hold their interest," the news agency said.
Tass praised the Kovrigins for instilling a sense of civic pride and responsibility into their "bad boy" football players by preserving "the principle of the street."
"Everything is based on democracy. The boys become responsible and coaches do not interfere in the boys' relations. The code of behavior of the club is based on the principle of mutual trust," Tass said.
Since taking up the game the teenagers' grades have improved and their public demeanor is better. But conservative forces in the industrial city 1,000 miles east of Moscow are said to view American-style football with distrust and the concept of democratic management, as practiced by the Federals, contrary to communist views.
The anti-Federals feeling is so high in Chelyabinsk that the board of directors of the leading sports club in town, Granite, has refused to let the Federals use its playing fields.
"Even schools do not recognize the club. From their point of view its activities are contrary to orthodox teachings," Tass said.
But the moral of the story appears to be that innovation is good and outside influences, including something as foreign as American-style football, should not be opposed.