“The Gazprom Neft Cup is a serious competition, in which only the best can take part!” Avangard-2005 have begun their pre-contest preparations.
This 10th anniversary round of the Gazprom Neft Cup will take place at the end of the hockey season, but Avangard-2005 have already started their preparations, with the guys training both on the ice and in the gym, and having recently returned from a three-week training camp in Sochi. They, together with their parents and their Head Coach, talked to us about preparations for this major tournament.
Victor Arkhipov, Head Coach, Avangard-2015
— We started getting ready for the Gazprom Neft Cup as soon as the guys got back from the summer holidays. The first summer camp, where we put in the groundwork in terms of physical training for the season, was done with an eye on the fact that the guys would be taking part in a major tournament of this kind. In October we went to a training camp in Sochi, where we had everything we needed to start our preparations, working on the ice, in the gym and in the fresh air, making use of specialist weights machines that help improve balance and coordination. We had specialist trainers working with us, improving specific aspects of the game, as well as famous players taking masterclasses. Sochi also offers extensive opportunities for rehabilitation, which we took full advantage of. For now, we’re following through on the programme we decided to follow pre-season, and plan to work on this further. We want to take part in a number of tournaments, and already have an invitation to take part in the Alexei Cherepanov Memorial Tournament, which we’ll be travelling to in February. All of which will help us in selecting the squad for the Gazprom Neft Cup, because that involves only 22 players, and we have a team of 33. It’s competitive, certainly, but at the moment team places are open to everyone — every player needs to put in the effort, work hard and win their place in the team. It’s a serious competition, in which only the best get to play — only the most tenacious, the most dedicated, and the most brave.
— You’ve already taken part in the Gazprom Neft Cup several times; will you be using this experience with Avangard-2005?
— Obviously, life changes, and today’s kids are very different even from those in our cup-winning 1999 team. What I will try to use from my experience is this — the tournament takes place within a very tight period of time, and the kids get very tired: in which context, you have to take particular care, you have to know how to handle the guys so they don’t burn out.
— What do you pay particular attention to, in the training process?
— I’ve only been working with this team a short while, so I’m currently looking not just at the kids’ playing abilities, but also their psychological nuances. Trips away help with this, in helping you get to know the kids better, to work out their characters — because psychology has no small impact on the ultimate result.
— Are the kids already focused on the tournament, or are they following their own programme?
— Our kids don’t need to be made to focus on the tournament, because they know, from their very first training sessions at the Avangard Academy, that at the age of 11 they have the Gazprom Neft Cup, and they very much look forward to this tournament. The kids have just one goal — to win: but the absolute minimum objective — winning medals is something the Avangard emblem on the shirt obliges them to do.
Anton Zyatkov, father of Avangard-2005 defender Mikhail Zyatkov
— This year is different from previous ones because it ends with the Gazprom Neft Cup, the most important tournament for children of this age. The children’s preparation includes training away from home — they take part in competitions, and play friendlies with other teams in the Avangard Academy. All of which is directed at improving their overall physical condition, fine-tuning communication between team members, and getting a sense of the new coach. We hope all this will bear fruit.
— Do parents talk to their children about taking part in the Cup?
— At the Avangard Academy they start training for this tournament from the age of five. It’s a significant tournament not just for the children, but also for the entire club, its management, and for the parents. The thing is, they all want to get there, the kids just live for it. But I try not to put pressure on the child, not to drum the responsibility into him, so he doesn’t burn out. I try to get him round to the view that it’s a potentially beneficial tournament, that you need to prepare well for.
Andrei Gaas, defender, Avangard-2005
— We always play to win, and focus solely on this, for every game. New training exercises have been added this year, and the workload is heavier, because there’s a major responsibility on us now — the 10th-anniversary 2016 Gazprom Neft Cup. If we don’t play well in this, we won’t be Avangard! But I think we’ll cope with everything!
Egor Gladkikh, striker, Avangard-2005
— We were chatting with the guys from the 2004 team, and they told us that for the Gazprom Neft Cup you’ve got to be tough, got to give 110 percent. We were playing in our own tournament last year, so couldn’t watch the Cup matches, but we know that the teams all come out with an incredible attitude, with everyone making for the goal, and scoring loads. But I think, if we’re confident, tenacious, and assuming we keep striking, then we’ll win every match!