Roman Vafin: «A good team atmosphere is the key to success»


A student of Neftekhimik school, Roman Vafin, during his hockey career played on Neftekhimik–2, VHL teams Lipetsk, Izhstal, Mordovia, and Slavutich. For the last 8 years he has been training young hockey players at Neftekhimik hockey school Neftekhimik. His players have already moved from the MHL (JHL) level to professional hockey. He talked about his hockey path and his approach in working with children.

– Since the age of 5, my life has been connected with Neftekhimik hockey school. My first coach was Oleg Petrovich Yashin, he recruited our team from kindergarten and brought it to graduation. We had a strong team born in 1987; after training at the Youth Sports School, 12 people began to play further. One example – Pasha Valentenko was drafted in the NHL, played in the AHL, in the national team and in the KHL. Oleg Marzoyev, Ilya Susloparov, Ilnar Nurgaliyev – are all from the same team. I played for the second team of Neftekhimik, at the age of 16 palyed on Leninogorsk team, Belgorod team, played in different teams at the VHL level – Orenburg, Glazov, Izhevsk and Lipetsk.

– Why did you decide to become a coach?
– It turned out that at the age of 20 Igot a serious injury. In Izhevsk, during a game, I smahed into the boards and was seriously injured. I underwent treatment for a long time, but still continued to play, and a few years later the consequences of that injury made it clear that I was not able to play. At the last training camp in Adler, I realized that it looked like it was time to say good buy to hockey for health reasons.

I returned home and my father suggested that I need to work at a factory. But I already understood that I was used to a different lifestyle, training and constant travel. At the Neftekhimik Hockey School there was an opportunity to switch to coaching, and I started teaching children. I was 30 years old that time.

– Which team did you start working with at that exact moment?
– In 2016, I started working with guys born in 2003, helping Agafonov Roman. I think I was very lucky with the staff, with the team, with the parents, I was warmly welcomed. We worked together for three seasons, reached the finals of the Volga Federal District, and got second place. These were all our boys, whose names are now well known – Danil Sherstobitov, Islam Gainullin, Nikita Khoruzhev, Grisha Morozov, Raul Yakupov. It is not for nothing that they showed themselves to the youth team, and are now being played to the first team. We look forward to seeing results from them in the future.
Nikita Khoruzhev, starting to play for the youth team, did not succeed right away. But look how much he has improved over the last two years with Reaktor. His work is visible and I am glad that he is progressing so much.

In the same team there was a strong central forward, Danil Zhuravlyov, who, unfortunately, passed away very early. He would have gone far, he was a capable palyer.

A good team atmosphere is the key to success.

In 2018, I had to go to recruitment, went to kindergartens, recruited kids for the team. But suddenly I was  handed the team of 2008, 10-year-old boys. We started working with them, got almost to graduation – in a year they will graduate from the Neftekhimik Hockey School. Starting next season I am moving to a new team with Dinar Khairullov, we are glad to work with 2018 team.

– How has the attitude towards children's coaching changed over the past years?
–  Changes almost every week. Because hockey itself is moving forward, when I played, we, for example, we did not know what tackles and roll-ups were, but now we cannot work without this aspect. The coaching work itself was easy for me. I spend a lot of time at work. You have to be a fanatic of your business to work in children's sports. I also talk about this with the guys, so that they think about what awaits them next. Will they be able to continue without hockey when graduation from hockey school is on its way in a year? Now is the time, there is crazy competition in hockey.

–  Do you follow your players from the 2003 team at games in the MHL (JHL) and KHL?
–  I constantly watch games, these are our guys, in whom we invested, with whom we spent a lot of time together. I visit ganes and am very happy for the guys, everyone plays confidently in leading positions.

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