''We stew in our own juice'': revelations of Sintez at meeting with Rustam Minnikhanov

How the Tatarstan president honoured water polo players in the Kremlin

''We stew in our own juice'': revelations of Sintez at meeting with Rustam Minnikhanov Photo: tatarstan.ru

The winners of the Russian Water Polo Supercup – Sintez – was congratulated in the Kazan Kremlin on 23 May. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov did it, and it had been the first meeting for the Kazan water polo players in the last ten years: the last time they were invited to the Kremlin was in 2007 when they became champions of Russia. Now the improvised counter has been reset, and the club will need to arrange its participation in such events. Realnoe Vremya tells about the meeting with the president and the team's expectations of the upcoming season.

After 8 years of expectation

In our country, water polo is remembered not so often as representatives of this sport would like. Sadly, Russia has been an inveterate outsider in international competitions in the last years. This is why there has been much less attention to water polo players. This doesn't refer to Sintez from Kazan – probably the most stable club in Russia. The Kazan players continue showing a high level and, as a rule, fight for the best awards both on the domestic and international stage.

Nevertheless, all their attempts to win a trophy in the last years have been in vain. But the unpleasant tradition stopped last season: the Kazan players won in the 2017/18 the Russian Supercup in KAI Olymp swimming pool at home.

''Your success is a reserve for investments in water polo''

It was felt from the very beginning of the meeting that the team hadn't received an invitation to the Kremlin for 11 years. The water polo players and the administration of the club arrived in the meeting 45 minutes beforehand and sheepishly huddled up close to each other.

''It's a great honour for us to meet with you,'' Rustam Minnikhanov defused the situation in his welcome speech. ''I sincerely congratulate on such a long-awaited victory in the Russian Supercup. You confidently won the serious rival. Undoubtedly, the current success of the team is a result of a determined work of the whole collective, including the players, coaching staff, officials and administration of Sintez club.''

The unpleasant tradition stopped in the last season: the Kazan players won in the 2017/18 the Russian Supercup in KAI Olymp swimming pool at home

Rustam Minnikhanov also paid attention to the team's sponsors thanks to whom there were created good conditions to develop water polo in Kazan. ''I will especially note the role, meaning and contribution of the team's sponsors to the victory – TAIF Group of Companies and Kazanorgsintez. They were aimed at this victory together with you. The whole republic supported you, we believed, and you justified the confidence of fans,'' the president emphasised. In addition, he noted the meaning of this victory to bring up young athletes and followers of the current generation of water polo players.

''Our young water polo players have people to follow. Excellent conditions have been created today to do water polo. 108 standard swimming pools work, seven of which are 50 m in length and meet the highest competition standards,'' Minnikhanov said.

Even doctor was awarded

And then it was the time to award the main creators of the success. So, the merits of head coach's assistant Nikolay Maksimov and team captain Artyom Odintsov were noted. In addition, the names of the club's director Rustem Nasybullin and team doctor Aleksey Yufimov were mentioned.

Then Sintez head coach Andrey Belofastov and Artyom Odintsov gave the president a medal of the Russian Supercup winner, a ball and memorable photo. Rustam Minnikhanov said the souvenirs would become exhibits of the museum, except the medal that would join the other presents a bit later. ''I will have this on a bit,'' Minnikhanov explained in a joke.

Rustam Minnikhanov also paid attention to the team's sponsors thanks to whom there were created good conditions to develop water polo in Kazan

Andrey Belofastov: ''Victory in Eurocups? I hope this will be very and very soon''

By the end of the ceremony, Andrey Belofastov approached journalists. The specialist gave to understand that Sintez would soon be able to fight not only for Russian but also European cups.

The last time when Sintez was honoured here was a long time ago. How did you do it? How will you estimate your chances of winning future trophies?

Indeed, Sintez won the last trophy, the Russian Cup, as early as 2010. The last time we were in the Kremlin with assistants was in 2007 when the club was the winner of both the title of the champion of the country and the European Cup. Much time has passed since then, and water polo develops. It's been a long road to get to this, and we're very glad about the success. In this respect, I'd like to separately thank our major officials, sponsors of the team – TAIF Group and Kazanorgsintez. It's their merit and their victory. We were created excellent conditions to work and train. Thanks to this, Sintez is the most stable club not only in Russia but also in Europe now. We always have a task to win. It's not easy, but one should aspire to it, and we will aspire. We want to believe we will conquer the next trophy much faster than the current one.

What does the team need to improve to have a stab at a title not only in Russia but in Europe?

Today's tendency is that a very big number of foreign players play at European clubs. And this year our limits was 10+2. Moreover, one of the two players has played with an injury in the last four months. Undoubtedly, we need to attract young players, fresh blood is always needed. And Kazan does have it. But at the same time, one should maintain a balance of experience and youth. In addition, we need to participate in big tournaments, play sparring matches. This, of course, won't happen tomorrow. But we need to aspire to it every day. And I hope this will be very and very soon.

How difficult is it to fight for good foreign players in the market?

It's very difficult. Today the Championship of Hungary is everybody's priority where the strongest European teams play. In addition, Italy had four complicated rivals with good budgets and resources. It's logical that players prefer to play in Europe. The competition schedule is more flexible there. It's a bit complicated here. This is why even leading players not always can show their level while coming to Russia.

''Undoubtedly, we need to attract young players, fresh blood is always needed. And Kazan does have it. But at the same time, one should maintain a balance of experience and youth,'' thinks Belofastov

Artyom Odintsov: ''We stew in our own juice''

Sintez-Kazan captain Artyom Odintsov was the next person who approached the journalists. Like the coach, he also hoped the Kazan players would manage to reach a higher level inside the country and in Eurocups.

It's been said correctly that it's a long-awaited victory for us. We didn't have victories for long, everyone wanted it. We work on it hard. It's our common victory – the club's sponsors, coaches, players, fans, the whole republic's victory.

How serious was the competition this season?

Very serious. I think we were lucky. We worked for long, prepared right for this game. Everybody understood it's a very good chance to win the trophy.

When will you become the champions?

Of course, we hope for the best and will work hard for it. And we believe we will fight for the victory in the final next season.

What about Eurocups?

It's quite complicated to compete with European teams. We stew in our own juice here, so to speak. Championships in Europe are much stronger. But all will turn on the draw. We've played in the final once where we lacked luck. That's nothing, we will work and try. I believe in a successful future.

By Zulfat Shafigullin. Photo: tatarstan.ru
Sports Tatarstan