Two divisions, 24 teams, 56 games, several hundred participants and tens of thousands of viewers — the Gazprom Neft Cup has moved up to a whole new level. An international tournament on this scale has become a bit crowded in a single city — or even a single country — so in 2014 the Cup will have two main centers. The traditional center, Omsk, will receive teams from the “Eastern” division, comprising teams from the Urals, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. And a new center, Minsk, will host games between Russian and international clubs representing Western Russia and Europe. The ‘divisions’ system is used by all the major international hockey leagues, and in introducing it the Gazprom Neft Cup has moved even closer to a professional competition. As regards organization, refereeing, and press coverage — on the basis of these criteria the tournament has long held its own against the main professional tournaments in Europe.
All of which is extremely important for 10- to 11-year-old hockey players, just starting out in making their way in the sport. And better motivation in persuading them to continue would be hard to find.
Chairman of the Tournament Organizing Committee, Member of the Management Board,