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Interview of Roman Rotenberg to Nevskoe Vremya

21 January 2015 | Interview

Vice-President of SKA hockey club Roman Rotenberg told Nevskoe Vremya (member of the Baltic Media Group) about the preparations for the international ice hockey tournament Gazprom Neft Cup to be held in St. Petersburg.

This year St. Petersburg for the first time will host Europe’s largest competition, Gazprom Neft Cup KHL International Kids Hockey Tournament, in which teams of KHL clubs trainees take part. The northern capital will bring together 12 teams of the West Group who will compete for a ticket to the super final. The Vice-President of SKA hockey club Roman Rotenberg told us about the tournament and about the role the St. Petersburg hockey club plays in it.

Vice-President of SKA hockey club Roman Rotenberg. Picture from www.nvspb.ru

— Why was St. Petersburg chosen to host Gazprom Neft Cup and how important is this event for the sports life of the city?

— In our city, hockey is loved and understood. Record attendance of SKA home games and high level of organization give us confidence that the fixtures of our part of the tournament will attract the attention of St. Petersburg fans. And SKA hockey club, in its turn, will do its best for them to get the first-class show during the opening game and the final of the West Group.

— How does SKA assist in organizing the tournament?

— We are not organizers of the Gazprom Neft Cup, but, of course, we will focus on helping those who hold this tournament. Above all, as we are on good terms with people at both the Ice Palace and the Yubileyny Sports Palace, so SKA will help organizers in working with these venues. We have a huge army of fans, in total in social networks it numbers more than 250,000 subscribers, and, of course, the fact that the tournament is announced on behalf of our club will attract spectators. And, of course, we are ready to advise the organizers on all matters, since in recent years we have obtained sufficient experience in holding hockey events of different levels.

— What is the appeal of the tournament?

—First of all I must admit that it is the largest children’s hockey tournament in Europe, and its geographic coverage keeps expanding. It is hard to overestimate the significance of this tournament for children and their parents, for all future generations of our hockey. And, of course, it is not only about hockey. Excursions and meetings with professional hockey players are organized for the young athletes, and various workshops for the coaches are held. And the level of organization is incredibly high for a children’s tournament: the games are judged by KHL referees, and all Tournament events are covered by the largest sports media. And, above all, just imagine what it means for an 11-year-old hockey player to play in the Ice Palace!

SKA — Jokerit 4:3 (B), April 20, 2014, Chizhovka Arena, Minsk

— SKA youth team will also take part in the Cup. What are its goals?

— I would not say that we have purely result-oriented goals and objectives. Perhaps, we lose a lot of talented players because of the increased expectations and racing for trophies from the youngest age. Now it is more important to work on the technique and understanding of the game itself. It seems to me that now they should not think about elite sport — on the one hand, it is fraught with trauma and, on the other hand, when those athletes graduate from sports schools we get physically strong but not brilliant enough players. The main thing for us is to make sure that the boys show their individuality, show interesting hockey, make the audience happy, and enjoy themselves.

— In the past years, young SKA players were among the outsiders of the Gazprom Neft Cup. Among the leaders are Ak Bars, CSKA, Traktor, Avangard ... Does it mean that St. Petersburg hockey schools do not do enough?

— I believe that it would be wrong to say that the city’s hockey schools are weak. It is true, we lost a whole generation as a result of difficult years our country went through, but now our young players are trained in completely different conditions and the achievements made owing to the schools work are absolutely different. Moreover, the St. Petersburg team won this tournament at the first set-out, and the SKA trainees were among the best players. So let’s hope that our boys show the St. Petersburg audience interesting and decent hockey.

Super Final of Gazprom Neft Cup, Ak Bars — CSKA Moscow 0:1.April 25, 2014, Omsk Arena, Omsk

Full text of the interview with R. Rotenberg can be found in the online version of the Nevskoe Vremya newspaper at http://www.nvspb.ru/tops/deti-ne-doljny-zadumyvatsya-o-trofeyah-56400

Teams mentioned SKA (St. Petersburg) SKA St. Petersburg