Ēvalds Grabovskis, former head coach of the Latvian national team, said in an interview with the LETA news agency that Latvia has the opportunity to be among the top six teams of the world hockey championship, but the country needs an organized and forward-thinking hockey system. .
The Latvian hockey team won the bronze medal at the world championship, beating the USA 4:3 in overtime in Tampere, Finland, and won a medal for the first time in a competition of this rank.
Grabovskis stresses that there aren’t many hockey players in the country compared to hockey superpowers, but quantity doesn’t automatically mean quality. Quality is determined by “work, attitude, discipline, self-sacrifice, moral qualities, the desire to represent one’s country, to give all his strength”.
He highlights the various aspects that work needs to be done and mentions that the Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) needs to think about a forward-thinking development policy of the sport.
“Here we have to think hard about the organization of work in Latvia, about creating a system that doesn’t encourage people to leave and seek happiness elsewhere,” says Grabovskis. Initially, he believes that working with young people is quite high quality, but then the players leave the country.
He also mentions student sports that can contribute to keeping players in the sport, recalling that at the beginning of Latvian hockey “Universitäts Sports” was one of the best hockey teams in the country, and then universities implemented this sport.
“Jelgava could be a student development centre. Ventspils, Liepāja could have the same opportunities,” says the 82-year-old hockey expert.
“It’s hard to judge the military’s involvement in hockey,” says the hockey expert, of the next possible field of activity. Recalls that even in Soviet times Latvian hockey players were trained in the army system, the Riga “Dynamo” recruited them.
“The financial burden on families must be lifted because it is becoming unbearable. We cannot count on those who can handle the financial burden to deliver the best results,” Grabovskis said.
He also mentions the importance of regional sports development by stating that Andris Džeriņš is from Aiviekste, Uvis Balinskis – from Ventspils, Mārtiņš Cipulis – from Cēsis in the national team.
He recalls that the regional development began in 1998 with the construction of the hockey hall in Liepaja, the Olympic centers in Ventspils, Liepaja, Valmiera and the hall in Jelgava.
In the Soviet years, the “Golden Balls” and “Leather Balls” tournaments were popular with children and teenagers, near the housing authorities there were fields that have now turned into parklands, another unorganized source of hockey players points out the exhaustion of hockey players. The source of the hockey players added that at these competitions not only do their sports talents harden, but the children now have a physical rage for life for the military, which is having a hard time filling their ranks.
“We have to fight for hockey positions. The basis for this may be, say, the organization of clubs with a full structure, with certain financing options,” Grabovskis said. , Norway and other countries said these issues are being addressed and that this experience should be used in Latvia because “parents cannot put the whole burden on their shoulders”.
“Sport is not a self-motivated community, but a carefully organized process to achieve a result, rather than wondering if we can repeat this year’s success,” says Grabovskis.
He believes that Latvia’s opportunities have allowed him to fight for a place in the top six, and now Latvian hockey players understand that tenth and 11th places in the world championship are not the end of the dream.
Emphasizing the importance of the bronze medals won, Grabovskis said, “The players and coaches were talking when we were satisfied with these places. Now we see that we can aim for higher places and this is not a utopia.”
He states that Latvian hockey has a rich history starting from the pre-war years, continuing with Riga’s veteran team “Daugava”, the arrival of Viktor Tikhonov in Latvia and the rise of “Dynamo” culminating in 18 years. in the top league of the USSR.
“This was also the basis for why the Latvian national team played so well, got into the top league of the world championship and continues to play there,” says the Latvian specialist, who worked as the head coach of Riga “Dynamo” for six seasons.
“Generations have changed, but the spirit and aura have not. This achievement only increases our faith and commitment,” says Grabovskis.
He emphasizes once again the need for smart leadership: “Coach Hari Vitolinas alone is not enough. We need a good management of the national hockey system, of course we don’t have problems here.”
Rīdzinieks Grabovskis led the Latvian national team at the 1995 World Championships, where Latvia was second in Group B and failed to qualify for the strongest competition.
Source: Tv Net
A highly experienced journalist, I specialize in sports news and have been writing for The News Dept. for the past five years. Not only do I produce content that is both accurate and engaging, but I also work hard to stay abreast of current industry trends. My knowledge of various sports, coupled with excellent research skills make me a valuable asset to any publication or organization seeking an authority on the topic. In addition to my journalism career, I am actively involved in two professional organizations related to my field: The Sports Writers Association and the American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA).