Snow Leopard Wings: most important thing — to believe in yourself
The doors of the wheelchair basketball club in Kazan are open to everyone
Snow Leopard Wings basketball club in Kazan making plans to expand and, with the support of TAIF company, is preparing for new victories. What opportunities are open to those who decide to link their fate with professional sports. About this — in the second part of a series of materials from Realnoe Vremya.
Snow Leopard Wings then and today
“Before we had our sponsor, TAIF JSC, the team worked on a voluntary basis," said the coach of the team, Natalia Kuleshova.
Sergey Chistov continued:
“The sponsor — TAIF company — helps the team a lot. Indeed, every athlete receives a salary today. An individual contract has been signed with each athlete, depending on how they play, of what level. Yes, the newcomers who are just coming, until they prove themselves, the salary is not accrued, but they get the opportunity to play sports, and completely free of charge, and show themselves.
But this is not all that TAIF does for the team. TAIF JSC also helped to purchase and install the equipment for the gym with climate control and air conditioning, as well as additional lighting on the playground. With uniform and sports equipment — also full support. But professional sports are very expensive. A special wheelchair for basketball alone costs about 700 thousand rubles. And it still needs maintenance, spare parts. Plus trips to training camps, tournaments, championships…
“We usually go on the same trips by plane. To deliver the strollers, we order a Gazelle, it brings them, and then meets and takes them back. In TAIF, we were offered transport — a bus. To make it specially for us. But it's hard for the guys to travel on the ground for a long distance, to be on the road for a long time. By plane and faster, and with less inconvenience. Buying a bus to take it out somewhere once every 2 months, and the rest of the time so that it stands idle — it doesn't make sense in terms of costs," Sergey Chistov said that sponsors are ready to give even more than they do now.
The team responds to care with sporting victories. There are almost no empty seats in the gallery of Honour, which welcomes guests of the Tulpar Sports Complex, where Snow Leopard Wings train.
“We have victories in international tournaments — in Germany, in Bulgaria — first places and cups for two seasons. And there are a lot of victories here at All-Russian competitions. There were tournaments where we beat, for example, BasKI and became the first," the director of the club does not hide his pride for the team. But this is not the most important thing, adds Sergey Chistov. “We are most proud of that we have a team that finds the strength, comes here, studies, we work with them. Professional sports require a lot of attention — we practice five times a week for 2,5-3 hours. And I'm proud that the guys withstand it. This is an achievement that is more valuable than all awards and cups.
Vasily Kochetkov, who has returned to the club, also admits that the team has become different. Better. Stronger. More ambitious.
“The approach to training itself has changed. When we started, in general, few people knew and I myself did not even know about this sport. Now the approach itself has become more professional. Training has become more professional. The club has other tasks," he says.
New players are also joining the team. A year ago, the team was replenished with two more athletes. At the beginning of spring, a player from Naberezhnye Chelny came. And he is not the only one who started a trip to try his hand at one of the best wheelchair basketball teams in the country. About six months ago, Artur Galstyan called the club from Orenburg. Today, he is already successfully playing with the team at major competitions.
“I used to do sledge hockey. This is also a Paralympic sports. But there were a number of changes in my body, so I had to part with hockey. So I started looking for an opportunity to play sports, because I love it and I like to be in good shape. That's why I'm here. I came in October last year. And I celebrated my birthday with the guys at the Russian Championship. We took the second place," the athlete shared his story.
In April, the first round of the Russian Championship 2023 finished in St. Petersburg, and again the athletes from St. Petersburg are a little ahead. Tatarstan athlets plan to take revenge in the autumn — in the second round of the championship, which should dots the i's in the main competitions of the year.
In the meantime, passions are running high at smaller venues, but perhaps, even more spectacular. We are talking about a completely new phenomenon for Russia — quiet!basketball.
“This is a project that was launched last year in the autumn by the Russian Basketball Federation. This is inclusive basketball. Basketball, which is played 3X3 in wheelchairs. And they hold it within the framework of the national championship, along with tours where there is a “foot game”, they connect five wheelchair teams. In total, 15 teams have gathered in Russia, each team plays two rounds, and at the end of June there will be finals. We immediately became actively involved in this process. The Basketball Federation holds tournaments entirely at its own expense. Competitions are held in large shopping centres: a platform is being built, limiters, music, commentators are being put up. The last game was in St. Petersburg and it was broadcast live on the TV Match! Game channel. The game is in one ring. This is an Olympic sport. The first wheelchair World Championship was held and we decided to develop it in our country, too," explained Sergey Chistov.
The first victories and prizes at the stages of the tournament are already in the piggy bank of Snow Leopard Wings. The team has ambitious plans for the finals.
The club is more than just a team
Everyone who is familiar with Snow Leopard Wings is sure of this. For the players, coaches, masters and medics of the club, all this has long been a second family. In their free time, the club can get out into nature in full force, grill shashlik, chat. During trips to training camps and games, they try to find time for small excursions. Plans for the future of the club are discussed together. And they are big.
“We have growth in our plans. We are ready to accept new athletes to the club. The main thing is for people themselves to understand that it's not a thing to sit in four walls and feel sorry for themselves, that they need to go out and start living a normal life so that they believe in themselves and want to. To begin with, let them come and talk. If there is an influx of people, we will open another group, and maybe more than one. And there is no women's team yet. One girl comes to training. She is 15 years old, and when the school schedule allows, she comes and trains. She is good, capable. If a team had been recruited, we would have worked with her without any problems. There will be more people — more sports strollers will be needed. But I think that with the help of our sponsors, this is a completely solvable issue," Sergey Chistov is sure.
But this is not all:
“We are ready to provide assistance in social rehabilitation to those who were injured as a result of an accident, and those who were seriously injured in the performance of official or military duty. We met with the soldiers of Rosgvardiya, who came on vacation from the special military operation zone. It was a very active meeting — very intensive communication in a friendly way. I myself was in the hospital, met with the military commissar of the republic, voiced our proposal — that we are ready, and met with understanding," said the director of Snow Leopard Wings club.
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