Despite the fact that hockey season ended a few weeks ago, news about Astana’s favourite team sport is exciting fans in the midst of summer.
News recently spread quickly among the hockey world that the head coach of Barys Andrei Nazarov had accepted an invitation to lead SKA Saint Petersburg, current holders of Gagarin Cup.
As a consequence, there was a vacancy in the place of the head coach of Kazakhstan’s only representative in the Continental Hockey League (KHL). There were many predictions on who would be named to the spot. Most pundits expected another foreign specialist to be appointed. However, on June 22, the team owners announced the appointment of Yerlan Sagymbayev, the club’s first ever home-grown coach.
Sagymbayev is well-known to local fans. The 45-year-old has experience as a player in a number of clubs like Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, Avtomobilist Karaganda, Avangard Omsk, Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Siberia Novosibirsk. He also captained Team Kazakhstan at the Olympic Games in Nagano 1998. Those were the national team’s first Olympic Games, and it did spectacularly well, reaching the quarterfinals, the highest achievement in Kazakhstan hockey’s history.
Due to health problems, Sagymbayev had to end his career early. However, he has gained some notable experience in Kazakhstan hockey as a coach and has proven himself to be a solid specialist. Before Barys he led Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, Sary-Arka Karaganda and Irtysh Pavlodar. He was a member of the coaching staff of hockey clubs Snezhnye Barsy and Barys. Sagymbayev also coached the national team.
It remains only to wish good luck to the new man at the helm of Astana’s most favoured club.