What is the secret of Neftekhimik Hockey School success?


In a recent study by the Sports.ru, Nizhnekamsk turned out to be a leader in the “density” of hockey players per capita. Per 100 thousand residents there are more than 7 professional athletes raised by the local school. Neftekhimik Hockey School director Ildar Nugmanov talked about the way Neftekhimik system manages to get such significant results and prepare hockey players even at the NHL level.

– The hockey school of a small city prepares top players. What is the phenomenon of Neftekhimik Hockey Shool?
– Nizhnekamsk is a hockey city! Many people support our team, and they know well that this sport is number one in our small city. Not a long time ago, on October 23, 2023, HC Neftekhimik celebrated its 55th anniversary. Twenty seven years after its founding, Neftekhimik made its way into the elite of Russian hockey. This led to great impact and development of this sport in the city. This was especially evident when Neftekhimik become a part of the Kontinental Hockey League.

However, the root cause of this phenomenon is that a number of players who were at the origins of the team, created back in 1968, at the end of their hockey careers became hockey coaches and shared their rich experience to the younger generation. For instance, Yuri Nemov, Anatoly Kuryanov, Gennady Pershin, Gennady Sergeyev and others.

The first major success came in 1977, when the team of the local club “Young Chemist”, led by Vladimir Zaitsev and Yuri Nemov, won the “Zolotaya Shaiba” tournament.
In 1983, the team of the courtyard club “Chaika” (coach Vil Fakhrutdinov) repeated the success of “Young Chemist” and won the “Zolotaya Shaiba” tournament. A year later, the same team won bronze at the All-Union "Zolotaya Shaiba" tournament.

The best Nizhnekamsk young hockey players began to be called to the national teams of the Republic of Tatarstan. These are students of coach Boris Shamarin – Albert Minnekayev, Ildar Safiullov, Rustem Khasnullin, Alexei Selikhov; coach Vil Fakhrutdinov – Igor Larionov, Andrei Zharenkov, Rail Usmanov, Rail Yakupov; coach Yuri Fyodorov – Rustem Safiullin, Igor Bogomazov, Evgeny Belov, Airat Garayev. Some of the guys became players of the Neftekhimik hockey team. For example, Rail Usmanov, Ildar Safiullov, Albert Minnekayev, Airat Garayev, Niyaz Yakupov.

After these successes of Nizhnekamsk coaches and their players, was made a desicion on opening Neftekhimik Hockey school in 1987.
Neftekhimik School under the sports club of the same name began to successfully prepare hockey personnel. Every year, local players join Neftekhimik hockey team.

The second reason for this success is the coaching staff. From the very foundation, Boris Shamarin, Anatoly Kuryanov, Vil Fakhrutdinov, Oleg Yashin worked at Neftekhimik Hockey School – they are great coaches and teachers who raised more than one generation of Neftekhimik hockey players. The same can be said about Lenar Vildanov, Andrei Zharenkov and Viktor Lyalin.

European champion among juniors in 1996 Dmitry Plekhanov, World champions among youth teams (U–20) Andrei Sergeyev and Maxim Berezin, prize–winners of the World Youth Championships Pavel Valentenko, Dmitry Kulikov, Bogdan Yakimov, Nail Yakupov, Damir Sharipzyanov, Maxim Groshev – players of the Nizhnekamsk hockey school. The first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft is Nail Yakupov, two-time Stanley Cup winner Mikhail Sergachev. At one time, more than 30 Nizhnekamsk students played in the KHL.

Lets not forget that we talk about Nizhnekamsk city with a population of about 250 thousand people.

The third factor is a hockey vertical, built over the years: Youth Sports School – YHL – JHC Reaktor – Neftekhimik. Here, the most promising players always get a chance to play on the main team – Neftekhimik. This is how Maxim Pestushko, Alexei Ugarov, Pavel Valentenko, Andrei Plekhanov, Maxim Berezin, Pyotr Khokhryakov, Igor Bortnikov, Emil Galimov, Pavel Kulikov, Rafael Akhmetov, Gleb Semyonov, Andrey Chivilyov, Bulat Shafigullin, Rafael Bikmullin and many many other became Neftekhimik players.

Currently, 20 players from the Neftekhimik Hockey School play in the KHL. Not so much clubs can be proud of such success.

– Today, several Nizhnekamsk players constantly play in Neftekhimik – Bulat Shafigullin, Rafael Bikmullin and Nail Yakupov; several more guys – Nikita Khoruzhev, Danil Sherstobitov, Raul Yakupov, Maxim Ustimkin, Grigory Morozov, Bulat Motygullin got a chance to play on Neftekhimik team in the KHL. In addition, these guys, among those sent to HC Izhstal, gained invaluable experience that will be useful to them in the next season.
Almost half of Reaktor players are Nizhnekamsk players; the boys have the opportunity to gain experience in the VHL team. It turns out that each of your students has a chance to make a professional career?
– Of course, there is a chance, they have a great opportunity. The main thing is to do your best, listen to the coach and follow his recommendations.

The main task of the hockey school is not only to develop a healthy lifestyle, but also to train highly qualified athletes in the created hockey vertical. This entire sports road can be completed in our hometown. The boys understand that everything is possible – to reach the KHL level through the steps.

– There is a strong opinion that children's hockey is expensive. Is it true?
– No more expensive than all other sports. The hockey club Neftekhimik, represented by the united company SIBUR PJSC "Nizhnekamskneftekhim", provides assistance to youth sports schools teams participating in official games of the PPFO, away tournaments and provides transport, gear, sticks, and other equipment.

More than 430 boys are currently part of Neftekhimik Hockey School. It is too early to say which of them will become a professional hockey player and which one will become a star, it is important to have the best conditions so that the guys can enjoy playing hockey and win. Our motto is sportsmanship first. Only the strongest get a place in the main team, in the leading lines.

For pupils of the Neftekhimik Hockey School, a provision has been developed to encourage promising and talented young hockey players in the form of scholarships. From the 2024–2025 season, according to the sports principle, as mentioned earlier, one or another player can get this scholarship. If one of the hockey players lowers his demands on himself, his place, on the recommendation of the coaching council, will immediately be taken by the player who shows the best results.

The management of HC Neftekhimik decided to purchase the necessary equipment for the youngest pupils of the school, newcomers born in 2019, in the amount of 50 sets, which will include: skates, gloves and a helmet. The kits will be issued to children taking their first, unconscious steps in hockey, thereby relieving the financial side on parents to purchase equipment. Recently, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that sports should be accessible to Russians. And we will work in this direction.

Considering today's sports competition and the need to create a modern material and technical base for the training of professional hockey players, we do our best to improve the conditions and create the necessary infrastructure for the youth sports school.

It is necessary to understand that the foundation of a future hockey player’s skill is built not only on the ice. Boys must develop all the skills: puck handling, skating, physics and tactics.

Not so long ago, a student of our school, Mikhail Sergachev, helped us and bought equipment for the gym, and the hockey club helped us renovate the gym room.
The issue of building a sports boarding school with a rehabilitation center and a gym is currently being considered.

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