On the 14 of February 2019 Neftekhimik HC won a nail-biting game against Sibir. The Wolves were winning
4-0 at one point but the score at the end of the third period was 4-4. Eventually the Wolves scored the winning goal in overtime for the victory.
Before the game I interviewed local sports blogger Vera Virts. I asked Vera about her association with the club.
“I am a freelancer. I am a presenter on a local TV news channel. I am a marketing consultant for a restaurant here in Nizhnekamsk. I do many things but my main passion is local sports. I am a fan of both the Neftekhimik football team and the hockey team. I try to popularize these teams on my various platforms and social network resources. I try to make supporters feel the same energy and excitement that I feel when I attend the games.”
When did Vera first start coming to Neftekhimik HC home games?
“This is my fifth season. I have been supporting the Neftekhimik football team longer than the hockey team. However, about five years ago I had the opportunity to meet some of the players from our hockey team and was interested in watching them play live. At the time, a good friend of mine regularly went to home games and I asked if I could join her. Having met some of the players beforehand, I felt a connection to the club and was instantly hooked. Over the last five years I have attended almost every home game, and sometimes even travel to away games in nearby towns like Kazan and Ufa.”
Vera elaborates on travelling to away games.
“Usually the club organizes a bus for the supporters. I either join them on the bus or travel by car with like-minded friends. The journey is always fun when surrounded by people ready for a good time and an adventure.
Home games sometimes feel like a routine when you’ve been to as many as I have. It’s impossible to remember the details of all of them. However, away games are always memorable. Each away game is a distinct memory because you get to experience a different city and a new arena. Our players really appreciate fans that are willing to make the effort and travel to away games.”
Vera has been involved in some interesting projects with the club. Photos of her can be seen on the big screen above the ice during intermissions, modeling club merchandise. I asked Vera how she came to be involved in such a unique opportunity.
“That was actually my idea. After talking to marketing consultant Anton Trusov about how to potentially increase merchandise sales, I organized a photo shoot featuring players and their families. We did a shoot with Andrei Sergeyev and his family. The second shoot included me as a model.
Initially I was supposed to be photographed with Neftekhimik HC star Alexander Bryntsev but he couldn’t make it on the day. In fact, we were only informed of Bryntsev’s absence one hour before the starting time of the photo shoot. Instead, I worked with Finnish player Juuso Puustinen. It was an intense situation because Juuso needed different sizes to Alexander. They have completely different builds. So we quickly changed the wardrobe to suit Juuso’s physique.
I really liked the finished result because it was a successful culmination of my ideas and efforts. And all this happened on my birthday.”
It is always a pleasure to see Vera at home games. Her positivity and passion for local sports in Nizhnekamsk is infectious. Vera’s optimism shines in everything she does, and her social network followers are as loyal to her as she is to Neftekhimik Hockey Club.
Follow her on instagram