In an interview, the Avangard forward Sergei Kalinin shared his impressions of the recent World Cup and wished good luck to the boys who will defend the club colours at the Ninth Gazprom Neft Cup.
— You captained the team in the friendly match with Traktor, so Raimo Summanen kept his promise for one match at least! Did your role on the rink change?
— Frankly, it was a nice surprise but a bit challenging. I was wondering how to behave with my teammates. But the lads helped me along and I think things turned out fine! It was a great game to watch, even though it was the first game of the season.
— Tell me something about the World Cup? How hard was your first senior tournament?
— It was a really important event in my life. It has always been my ambition to reach the national team and stay there. This year it came true. I am glad that we won gold medals. We have a good team, good backup and good coaching staff. We all worked together like one machine and that is how we won. But it was a tough championship, especially the first and last games.
— Sergei Kalinin is a world champion! Does that change anything?
— It still hasn’t sunk in that I won a gold medal in the senior national team. I think people’s attitude to me has changed a little. And I will keep practicing as hard as ever to achieve even better results in hockey. There are goals still to be attained, cups still to be won.
— When you brought the World Cup to Omsk, you visited the Avangard children’s hockey centre. Were you surprised how many boys were waiting to meet you, get your autograph, and touch the trophy?
— I never imagined there would be so many! I think it made an impression on me and everyone else who came. I guess it was like going back to when I was a kid. I remember, back then, Oleg Tverdovsky came to Omsk with the Stanley Cup and we had pictures taken with him and asked for his autograph. That was a great time!
— A lot of these boys will soon be playing their first major tournament, the Gazprom Neft Cup. What is the value of tournaments for 10-11-year-olds, isn’t it too early for them to play hockey that seriously?
— When I was their age, we didn’t have such a big tournament. I think it’s a good stepping stone for the boys’ future. The earlier you begin to play against strong teams and meet strong rivals, the faster you gain experience and skill. This will benefit the kids and it will also benefit the sport!
— Have you visited any of the children’s Tournament games? How did they make you feel?
— Sure I have. A couple of years ago I watched some Gazprom Neft Cup games live. After one of them, I even awarded the prize for the best striker. It is always interesting to watch the young boys play. It reminds you of how you used to do it yourself.
—This year for the first time the tournament was held simultaneously in two cities: Omsk and Minsk. In Omsk, Avangard-2003 just missed winning their group — they lost
— Any experience is invaluable. Sometimes defeats are more important than victories. If the coaches can help the players to draw the right conclusions, it will allow the boys to move forward. There are always victories and defeats in life. The boys shouldn’t take it too hard.
—Avangard-2004 will be at the 2015 Gazprom Neft Tournament. Will you be watching their games? What would you say to the hockey school boys?
— Sure, I will watch the Avangard games with great pleasure, because I find it interesting. I know that my teammates went to see games in the Eighth Gazprom Neft Cup. My wish for the boys is to win and to avoid getting hurt!
— Do you think it’s right to set very ambitious goals for yourself when you are 10? It makes sense when experienced professionals are in the rink, but what about kids? Won’t the boys be shaking in their shoes’?
—For children every tournament is important. Every player and spectator feels nervous, regardless of the standard of the competition. This is just the start of their career, so the parents and coaches must help the children to cope with the excitement and responsibility and reduce their psychological stress. The kids need help — it shouldn’t be just throwing them into the thick of the battle and letting things take their course. Anyway, the 2015 Tournament will be very interesting. Entering the rink before thousands of spectators for the first time gives you emotions that are powerful and unique! I’m sure the kids are looking forward to it.