Ilyas Khandaev, "Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 left impressions of a lifetime."
The head coach of the Russian national Bandy team shared his impressions of the Games that took place in Krasnoyarsk.
– Ilyas Igorevich, the performance demonstrated by the Russia team and spectacular final match against the Sweden team became one of the brightest events of the Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019. The Russian national team players, however, were chosen from various clubs. How did you manage to build a real team out of those selected individualities in such a short time?
– It was really hard. The work on it started at the stage of team formation. It was crucial to invite those who really wanted to play in the team at the Universiade. Also, we tried to pick the guys that would contribute to its comfortable microclimate, so the team spirit built up day by day. I think we succeeded in it.
– Most Bandy tournaments traditionally boil down to the eternal rivalry between Russia and Sweden, these two countries in particular. Does it affect the sport in any way? Or it is that reality that we just have to put up with for the time being?
– I would not totally agree with that. The Finland team is also a serious competitor. Finnish players are born fighters and it is embedded in their character. It is true, though, that sometimes the level of two teams–Russia and Sweden–does happen to be higher. But it will not be this way forever. Currently, the first national team of Finland is making a dramatic progress: there are many young and very promising Bandy players. Speaking of Norway, the Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 showed that Bandy is indeed on the rise in that country. That is why our sport is not only interesting thanks to the rivalry between Russia and Sweden.
– The Winter Universiade 2019 in Krasnoyarsk proved to be the Bandy debut at the Games. What are your impressions of your participation in such a large-scale sports event?
– These are the impressions of a lifetime! And these are not just words. I was even worried a little at first whether our young players would be able to focus on their own tournament and their own performance in it. There was so much going on! And it was extremely important to get it through to them that we came here to win, first and foremost. That was not too easy because they were overwhelmed with excitement, by the incredible Opening Ceremony that we took part in, and by the conditions that had been created in the Universiade Village and the Yenisei Ice Stadium... Everything was excellent: I hope all Bandy events will be organised at the same level as we experienced it here in Krasnoyarsk.
– Did you manage to attend any other competitions?
– Yes, in the course of the tournament, we went to see some Ice Hockey games. We also visited a lot of locations in the two final days after the Bandy tournament had finished.
– The Yenisei Ice Stadium where the matches took place at the Games is rated by many as the best Bandy arena in the world. Will it be right to say that this arena in Krasnoyarsk that will be the legacy of the Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 will give an impulse to further development of this sport?
– The appearance of a stadium in Krasnoyarsk of such a level is an invaluable contribution to the development of Bandy. You could just take a glance at the stands during the Universiade matches to see people who came there with all their families and extended companies. It means that the new generation of Krasnoyarsk residents will grow to love Bandy. Those children will likely enrol in the clubs and our sport will develop still further. Such tournaments and appearance of this kind of arenas play a significant role in popularisation of Bandy. And I really hope that the tournament in Krasnoyarsk will give great impetus for more of such stadiums to appear in other regions of Russia as well. So, Bandy finally becomes an Olympic sport, which is what we are all dreaming of.