Vladimir Mayorov, a member of the Gazprom Neft Cup Organising Committee and CEO of Gazprom Transgaz Belarus, told us how Minsk is preparing to greet the Tournament’s West Group teams and what surprises are in store for players and fans.
— After Gazprom bought all of the shares of Beltransgaz in 2011 a plan was made for incorporating our company into Gazprom. Social policy and support for sport and culture was a big part of that. Thus, the final stage of the Fakel festival of corporate culture was held in the Belarus city of Vitebsk for the first time in 2013 — before then it had always been held in Gelendzhik in Russia. We are working with our Russian colleagues on a programme “For the Children of Belarus” and that includes the Gazprom Neft Cup children’s ice-hockey tournament in Minsk. Also you know that Minsk will be hosting the World Ice-Hockey Championship in May, and the infrastructure, game venues, accommodation and catering are all in place for that. So our interests coincide with those of the Belarus Ice Hockey Federation and the Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk city administration). Gazprom Neft gets all the facilities it needs for the kids’ Tournament and Minsk can test-run everything that has been put in place for the World Championship.
— Where will the boys stay? Are there any excursions organized?
— The players and Tournament guests will stay in two hotels, which have opened specially to serve the World Championship. They are right next to the Chizhovka Arena. The boys have breakfast and dinner in the hotels and lunch in the Chizhovka restaurant. I am sure that the young players will be pleased with the menu choice. They won’t have a lot of time for leisure activities, but we might lay on a visit to a historical site — the old defensive positions, called the “Stalin Line” — and there will definitely be a coach tour around the city.
— Why is the Tournament limited to boys aged
— It’s an age when the players already have a certain level of skill and understanding of the game, but they still have a child’s directness, excitement and readiness. Also
— What can the spectators look forward to at the Tournament opening?
— First of all, a brilliant show with musicians, competitions and other entertainment, and some distinguished guests will be there to share the experience. Then the sport — the first game in West Group, with Minsk Dinamo taking on St. Petersburg SKA.
— For a children’s tournament it’s all very “grown-up”. Even the trophy is made by the same craftsmen who made the Gagarin Cup...
— That’s right. What’s more the Gazprom Neft Cup trophy is even a bit like the main KHL trophy. It weighs a whole 14 kg. We even discussed at a recent meeting of the organising committee how a child will be able to lift it up. But then we thought — they are athletes, after all, even if they only small athletes [laughs]. If it comes to it they can lift it together!