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MOSCOW, February 08, 2:11 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that he decided to put skates on and started playing ice hockey to support authority of this kind of sport in Russia.
“I would like to support somehow this kind of sport to revive it,” the president said in the documentary The Philosophy of the Soft Way aired on TV channel Rossiya-1 on Friday.
He shared his recollections that he started skating two years ago. “I wanted to hold on to the boards not to fall down,” Putin said.
The Russian president also noted that the Night Ice Hockey League, which he helped to create, has already brought many elderly people back in sports. “I asked our famous stars to support it. We divided all in divisions and our men, champions of different years, go there (to Russian regions), meet amateur ice hockey players, play with them and women’s ice hockey teams appeared,” Putin said.
The first Amateur Ice Hockey Teams’ Festival was held in Moscow on May 1-8, 2012. Eighty men’s ice hockey teams and 12 women’s teams participated in the festival from 74 Russian regions.
A gala match with Vladimir Putin playing in it was a highlight of this festival. He has earlier supported actively this amateur ice hockey competition, which was named the Night Ice Hockey League. On the day of his inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2012, the president went out on the ice in an amateur ice hockey team against a team of ice hockey legends of the country. After the match ended in a 5-5 tie, the winner was determined in a shootout, when amateur players outshot professional ice hockey players and so were luckier than them. Honorary guests, including former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel were watching the ice battle from the stands.
The Night Ice Hockey League was formed at the initiative of the Russian president and support of domestic ice hockey veterans on December 15, 2011. The league aims at attracting adult men in sports, popularising ice hockey in Russia as the number one national sport and creating an amateur ice hockey community, which unites all Russian regions. The league’s board included legendary domestic ice hockey stars, who supervise this project in regions.