Gazprom Neft and the Kontinental Hockey League have signed an agreement establishing their cooperation in socially significant programs, popularizing youth hockey, and preparing Russia's next generation of athletic talent.
According to the agreement, the Gazprom Neft Cup, an annual children's hockey tournament, will become an official KHL event and be renamed the Gazprom Neft Cup for KHL Youth Teams. The competition will be held from March 1 through May 1 in Omsk at two venues: the ice rink at the Avangard hockey center and the Omsk Arena. Sport-Express, Russia's largest sports publication, will be the tournament's general media partner.
The tournament will continue to be financed by Gazprom Neft, while the KHL will help organize and hold the Gazprom Neft Cup for KHL Youth Teams. The partnership agreement between the company and the League will make it possible to hold a larger and more representative tournament thanks to participation from KHL clubs' youth teams.
“Developing children's hockey is a top priority, and the future of this sport in our country depends on its success,” said Alexander Medvedev, the president of the Kontinental Hockey League. “Having 10-year-old kids meet KHL stars Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Yashin in April at the 4th Gazprom Neft Cup was the best possible illustration of the generational continuity in our hockey. I'm certain that the strategic partnership between Gazprom Neft and the Kontinental Hockey League in organizing and holding this already beloved tournament will help us make it one of the most memorable events in the children's hockey season.
“The agreement signed by Gazprom Neft and the Kontinental Hockey League was a logical step in strengthening our relationship, which already helped us hold last year's Gazprom Neft Cup at the demanding standard of all competitions conducted under the auspices of the KHL,” said Alexander Dyukov, the chief executive officer of Gazprom Neft. “But most importantly, this is a big step forward in promoting children's sport. It's a unique chance for young hockey players to test their skills and make an impression against teams representing the KHL's best franchises. What's more, I think that for the KHL's professionals, taking part in this tournament is a way to provide serious assistance in developing a system to prepare future Russian hockey players and to popularize this sport.”
The Gazprom Neft Cup has been held as a tournament for children's teams since 2007. The first competition was in Omsk, followed by Khanty-Mansiysk (2008), Salekhard (2009) and then again in Omsk (2010), for the first time under the auspices of the Kontinental Hockey League. Teams from St. Petersburg, the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous district, the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district, and the Omsk and Tomsk regions took part in the tournaments. In addition to the official competitions, the tournament also included master classes for young hockey players, meetings with stars from professional teams, competitions for teams with the best technical and physical preparation, and friendly games with members of the Legends of U.S.S.R. Hockey team.