Anton Polushin: We’re going there to win. What else?
On 21 April, the eleven-year-old Spartak players will face off at the biggest international children’s tournament — the XI Gazprom Neft Cup. While the red-and-whites weren’t able to achieve a very high position in their previous, debut season, in the current tournament they’re ready to conquer everyone in their path to the top . Spartak-2006’s head coach Anton Polushin gave an interview to the team’s press service before setting off for the tournament.
Are you ready for the tournament?
Of course. We have been training determinedly for six months now, specifically for this competition. We are heading to Sochi in a great frame of mind. Our task is to win every game. And I hope that we can show everyone some decent ice-hockey.
Did you have to select which players to take to the tournament?
Yes, we can’t take everyone. Twenty field players and two goalkeepers are going.
Was it tough telling the boys they had to stay in Moscow?
Of course — with a big ice-hockey event like this, all the kids wanted to go. But there are limits on how many we can take, and only the strongest players make the cut. It’s an incentive for the others to work even harder in training in the future.
What is your team hoping for this year?
We’re going there to win. What else? Yes, there may be differences in skill between teams of eleven-year-olds, but at tournaments like this, any team might beat any other. You can go out onto the ice with your nose in the air, and end up with nothing to show for it. Or you can go out and work your tail off: every period, every line change, every bit of the game. That’s what the final result will depend on.
The tournament draw worked out rather well for Spartak at the group stage.
To be honest, I haven’t attached too much meaning to it. We can play everyone. And we can beat any opponent. So at this point, I wouldn’t like to be too pleased about our opposing teams at the group stage. That’s not a wise idea.
Are all the leaders in the team in good health?
Yes, everyone’s ready; there are no serious injuries; no one is ill. We are going fully ready for battle.
Which players can you always count on at the difficult moments in a game?
Every line can make the difference to our game, so I won’t single anyone out.
Have you had any organisational problems before leaving for the tournament?
The organisational side of things has worked out very well. The club, the school’s management, and our parent committee have helped. I am thankful that there are people who have managed the paperwork and saved the coaches from doing that. We only had to think about how to train the kids well for the tournament, and any organisational problems were successfully dealt with in parallel to that.
Not long ago Dmitri Kalinin and Maxim Potapov visited your training sessions. What did the kids make of it?
They are still skating in the sweaters that the first team players autographed for them. The boys were thrilled and they’re still talking about it. The main thing is that they saw what they need to aim for. I hope that Spartak players will visit us more often in the upcoming season.
The Gazprom Neft Cup press service would like to thank our colleagues from the Spartak ice-hockey club for organising this interview!