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2024  N3-4(229-230)
The significance of a major international hockey tournament in Turkmenistan that brought together club teams from ten countries of Europe and Asia was emphasized by a special mass media forum dedicated to this event.
As was noted at the media forum, the hockey tournament was preceded by serious, responsible and comprehensive preparation by the State Committee for Physical Education and Sports and the Hockey Federation of Turkmenistan. All necessary conditions for sportsmen, technical staff, as well as guests and fans were created at the Winter Sports Complex. Some 200 volunteers from several higher educational institutions of the country were trained for the tournament, the program of which also included international coaching and refereeing seminars.
The home team, “Galkan” hockey club, trained hard for the tournament. The hockey players of the sports club that make the backbone of the Turkmenistan national team went to Belarus for practice and took part in a number of international competitions. They spent the final stage of preparation for the tournament at the Galkan Winter Sports Center under the guidance of experienced coach Andrei Makarov from the Republic of Tatarstan of the Russian Federation.
The history of Turkmen hockey players’ participation in international tournaments is less than ten years. The first national hockey tournament for the Cup of the President of Turkmenistan took place in 2012. The following year, these competitions already acquired international status. In 2017, the hockey players of the Turkmenistan national team sensationally won small gold medals at the second division tournament as part of the VIII Asian Winter Games in Sapporo (Japan). And the following year, they won a qualification tournament in Sarajevo among four teams, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it was for the first time that they qualified for the third division of the World Cup in 2019. Since then, Turkmen hockey players have regularly participated in world championships in the third division. The new Ashgabat international tournament was another challenge for Turkmen hockey players, a test of their growing skills.
On the opening day of the tournament, the 10,000-seat indoor ice arena of the Winter Sports Complex was filled to the rafters. The official part of the ceremony was followed by the musical and theatrical performance by cultural and artistic figures and sports school students.
And then, hockey clubs from Bahrain, Belarus, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan contested vigorously for six days for for the main trophy of the competition at the Winter Sports Complex. At the group stage, the clubs played in two groups, the winners of which were to contest “gold” and “silver” medals in the final match. And the teams that took second place in their groups had to compete for bronze medals.
Having beaten all the opponents in their group with a convincing advantage, “Galkan” was the first to reach the finals of the tournament. “ADIHIC-Kazan” from Tatarstan (Russian Federation) became their counterparts in the fight for the laurels of the winner.
On the last day of the tournament, “Phoenix” from Uzbekistan and “Volat” from Belarus played for the 3rd place. At the group stage, both teams lost only once: “Phoenix” to Turkmen “Galkan” with the score of 1:9, and “Volat” to Russian “ADIHIC-Kazan” with the score of 3:6.
In the “small” finals, the Belarusian hockey players looked much stronger and won with the convincing score of 12:4 (3:1, 6:1, 3:2). They became the winners of the bronze medals of the tournament. And then, “Galkan” (Turkmenistan) and “ADIHIC-Kazan” (Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation) appeared on the arena of the Sports Complex for the final match of the tournament. Both teams passed the group stage of the tournament undefeated and qualified for the final match for the main trophy of the tournament.
The final game was the real highlight of the tournament. Both teams had many scoring chances but the game remained goalless for a long time due to the excellent play of the goalkeepers. And yet, in the 9th minute, the spectators who filled the stands of the 10,000-seat arena to capacity saw the first puck scored by the tournament hosts. The guests representing the world-recognized hockey school of Kazan made a lot of effort to equalize, and they did it 53 seconds before the end of the first period. In the second 20 minutes, the Russians took the lead. The teams left for the second break with the score of 2:1 in favor of “ADIHIC-Kazan” team.
The eight-time champion of Turkmenistan had the final 20 minutes to turn the tide of the game. And the players led by Andrei Makarov and Meilis Kuliev did a great job in the final period, scoring three unanswered goals – 4:2! The hockey club «Galkan» from Turkmenistan became the winner of the tournament. «ADIHIC-Kazan» (Republic of Tatarstan) got silver medals and «Volat» (Belarus) got the bronze.
The international hockey tournament in Ashgabat was an undoubted success. This was discussed at the closing ceremony by sportsmen, referees and First Deputy Secretary General of the CIS Leonid Anfimov, who came to Turkmenistan on a short visit and took part in the ceremony of awarding of the winning teams.
During the award ceremony, the referees who served the tournament and best players were awarded special prizes, including goalkeeper Yaroslav Lagun (“Volat”), defender Musa Annasaparov (“Galkan”), forward Aidar Miftakhov (“ADIHIC-Kazan”). After this, bronze medals were awarded to the players of the Belarusian club “Volat”, and silver medals were awarded to the hockey players of the Russian team “ADIHIC-Kazan” from the Republic of Tatarstan. Then, to a storm of applause from the fans, the winning team “Galkan” was awarded gold medals and the Cup.
According to the heads of hockey delegations and team captains, Ashgabat deserves to become the venue for international hockey competitions of the highest rank. The organizers of the tournament also took care of the cultural program that helped participants get to know Turkmen history and the rich heritage of the people, their ancient original traditions, taste national dishes, view the sights of white marble Ashgabat, and also visit the “smart” city of Arkadag that offers ample opportunities for physical exercise culture.
The international hockey tournament is over. It became a wonderful sports festival that gave unforgettable impressions to both the hockey players and the numerous spectators.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005