Former player to lead BIHA

Belarus gets a new President in Savilov

02.07.2018
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A photo from his playing days: Gennadi Savilov at the 2003 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland. Photo: Jukka Rautio / Europhoto

After one year in office, Semyon Shapiro resigned as President of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association. Former national team player Gennadi Savilov was elected as his successor.

The Belarusian Ice Hockey Association held its reporting and electoral conference in Minsk where the new leadership was elected.

Shapiro, who succeeded Igor Rachkovski only one year ago, presented the reports of the men’s and U20 national teams that were both relegated from the top division, called the performance unsatisfactory and took the consequences by resigning as President.

“I didn’t succeed with the given tasks and came to this decision. It seems to me that the new leader of the federation should be a person from hockey. Thanks to everybody who helped me during the year. I wish the new leadership not to repeat the same mistakes of the last years,” Shapiro said.

The new President indeed comes from hockey. Gennadi Savilov, 41, is the first former top-level hockey player to lead the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association and was unanimously elected.

He played 15 years of top-level ice hockey in Belarus, is a two-time national champion and also played two years in the top Russian league for CSKA Moscow (2000-2002). He also represented his country in international tournaments and from there knows one main task that will come for next year as Savilov was on the team that earned promotion to the top division in 2002 where he contributed with four goals and eight points. One year later he played in the top-level 2003 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

The Minsk native ended his career as a player in 2010 with Metallurg Zhlobin. Afterwards he still played amateur hockey, was part of Belarus’ presidential hockey team, worked on his coaching education and appeared as TV expert. Outside of hockey he worked for Belintertrans and graduated during his days as a player at the national technical university with a degree in biotechnical and medical devices and systems.

Next season Belarus will for the first time in 15 years not be represented among the top-16 nations in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The main short-term goal will be the return to the elite nations when Belarus will battle for promotion with Korea, host Kazakhstan, Hungary, Slovenia and Lithuania at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Astana. Qualifying for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is another goal after missing out on Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

Other goals are to harmonize the relationship between the association and the KHL team Dynamo Minsk with a joint supervisory board, optimize the structure of the national championship and of the youth hockey schools.

“In Belarus, in the past 10-15 years not a single world-class hockey player has appeared. It is necessary to study what has been done in the previous years in the development of youth hockey. It is necessary to increase the effectiveness of the whole hockey industry so that fans will be able to see positive dynamics,” Savilov told broadcaster Belarus 1 and also mentioned that luring foreign players like in the past won’t solve the problem. “I think that in our country our hockey schools have to work more efficiently. 30 national team players from our youth hockey schools should be able to prepare.”

The new leadership will also have to name the head coach of the national team. During the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Dave Lewis was replaced by Sergei Pushkov, who couldn’t prevent the team from getting relegated either. According to Savilov there are about a dozen candidates who are considered. He didn’t mention any names but that it will most probably be a Russian-speaking coach.

“Most likely it will not be a foreigner. At least not a North American. The professionalism of certain national team candidates caused some concerns and there are only 10 months until the World Championship Division I Group A. There are currently no players of the calibre of Salei, Tsyplakov or Grabovski visible. Therefore the team can only succeed with complete dedication and unconditional discipline,” Savilov told Pressball.

MARTIN MERK

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