The message reads, in part:
“This wonderful sports festival that you are holding with the support of the Night Hockey League has once again brought together a big and friendly family of like-minded people of all ages and walks of life, all of whom share their love of this most vivid and exciting sport. Hockey’s popularity is growing all around the world. Millions of people in Russia too are taking to the ice, playing in the various divisions’ teams and achieving worthy results. This is the logical outcome of our common efforts to develop sport and physical culture, promote the values of a healthy, active lifestyle, and build new sports centres and hockey stadiums all around the country.
The festival’s participants will get to try out the Olympic venues in Sochi now and write their memorable page in the future Olympic capital’s calendar of big sports events. I am sure that your tournament will give us interesting and thrilling competition and a worthy final, and many memorable matches and discoveries, and the Night Hockey League will continue its work to develop mass amateur sport.”
The Night Hockey League was founded on December 15, 2011, following a meeting Mr Putin had with Russian ice hockey veterans. The league has more than 50 regional branches that organise competitions and develop amateur hockey. There are 3,500 to 4,000 teams playing at the amateur level in Russia, representing all in all a total of around 100,000 players of various ages, professions, ethnic and social groups.
The Russian Amateur Hockey League is the organiser of the National Amateur Ice Hockey Teams’ Festival. The festival was first held on May 1–8, 2012 in Moscow, with 80 men’s and 12 women’s teams from 74 different regions taking part. Mr Putin took part in the Russian Amateur Hockey League’s gala match on May 7, 2012.
The Second National Amateur Ice Hockey Teams’ Festival is holding its finals at the Olympic venues in Sochi on May 3–10, 2013. A total of 128 teams are taking part. Competition is taking place in the following categories: Champions’ League (Amateur 40+), Future Champions’ League (Amateur 40+), Dream League (Amateur 18+), Students’ League, International World Cup (40+), and Master 45+. The Dream League and Student League divisions are making their debut at the festival this year, following a proposal the President made at a meeting with Russian Amateur Hockey League senior officials on October 18, 2012. Teams from abroad are also taking part for the first time in this year’s festival.
The finals in all divisions will take place on May 10. A gala match in which top state officials and ice hockey legends on the Night Hockey League’s board will take part will begin at 20:00 and will be broadcast by television channel Rossiya-2.