Diana Tkachenko

Kazakhstan hockey team trains in Summerland

Members of the women’s hockey team from Kazakhstan have been in the Okanagan for two weeks of training.

Members of the women’s hockey team from Kazakhstan have been in the Okanagan for two weeks of training under the guidance of Canadian coaches.

Speaking through a translator, Alexander Maltseu, head coach of the Kazakhstan team, said the coaches and players are working together to create a development program to improve the skills of the players.

He said there is much information for the team members to absorb in a short time.

Nancy Wilson, working as the mentor coach with the team, said the two-week program is an opportunity to prepare the Kazakhstan players and to create a stronger national team for the central Asian country.

“This is a very young team,” she said.

“A lot of their older players retired last year.”

Working with the team will also help to promote the sport at an international level, she said.

Many of the players on the team have not competed at this level previously, she said.

“They have good skills,” she said. “These opportunities will help to prepare them for the international level.”

The mentor coaching initiative will also benefit the sport as a whole, Wilson added.

“We’re developing it worldwide so we can save our sport in the Olympics,” she said.

She explained that there are concerns within the hockey community that the game will not be included in future Olympics unless efforts are made now to preserve and enhance the game.