One of Russia’s most celebrated hockey players is Sergei Zubov, who now coaches SKA in St. Petersburg. Specially for our website he shares some memories of his hockey childhood and offers some tips to young players about how best to combine training and school studies.
— Tell us about your first steps in hockey?
— I was three when my father started teaching me how to skate. At first my friends and I used to chase a puck in the yard or an outdoor ice rink. And when I was 7, my parents, seeing that I was fond of playing hockey, took me to the Moskvich sports club sponsored by the Moscow Automotive Manufacturing Plant. A year later I started training at the famous CSKA hockey school and that’s where my path to the professional game began.
— At what age does a player make the final decision whether to become a professional sportsman or play hockey as a hobby only?
— It depends on the person. And if the decision is made by parents, it won’t do any good. Everyone has their own day and hour when they understand that they want to achieve more. And only then you go all the way.
— The Gazprom Neft Cup is held for players under 11. What is important for players at this age? What professional skills can they gain?
— First of all, competitiveness. Eleven years is an age when the thrill of the ice overrides every other feeling and desire of a young hockey player. And it is good! You have to play with peers, win as a team, and go through the mill together. That’s how the emotional strength of a sportsman is formed. You can learn how to play during training sessions, but only playing for real enables you to really live the game of hockey. During the games of such a prominent level as the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament everyone must give 100%, but victory will bring twice as much joy!
— Can children successfully combine hockey and school studies?
— That’s a complicated question. Maybe it’s easier to be both a good student and to put your energy into playing hockey when you’re younger. And it becomes more difficult once you are absolutely sure of your choice of a career in sports. That much I know from my own experience. But this does not mean you should drop your studies. I did not have any grades below B in my General Certificate of Education.
— How has children’s hockey changed since you played when you were 11? Do you think sports schools should work more actively?
— I think it’s pretty much the same. I would just add that for our country it is very important to create a unified system of youth hockey training. It was a very difficult time
— What would you wish the young participants of the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament?
— Every time you go out on the ice — enjoy the game!