Alexander Lukashenko opens XII Christmas ice hockey tournament

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Alexander Lukashenko opens XII Christmas ice hockey tournament

The first days of 2016 in Belarus are under the sign of ice hockey. Yesterday, the 12th Christmas Tournament for the prize of the President of Belarus started in Minsk. This year, teams from 7 countries came to take part in the tournament. Belarus is traditionally represented by the team of the President. All the games are held at the two ice hockey rinks of Chizhovka Arena, which is certainly convenient for the fans.    

All the teams are considered amateurs, while the tournament is dubbed the unofficial World Championship.  Year by year, the competition is growing. Even the least experienced team of the UAE is hoping to get some points against such hockey monsters as Finland and Sweden. Taking part in the opening ceremony was the Belarusian head of state.       

Alexander Lukashenko:
The new sport year in Belarus starts with a unique competition. For the 12th time, the ice arenas of the Belarus capital welcome the participants and fans of the Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament. These competitions have already become a kind of calling card of our state, gained wide popularity in many countries, becoming the unofficial hockey world championship. Competing for the title this year are representatives of our country as well as Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. These teams include eminent players who did great at competitions at the highest level in the past. And we are very pleased to once again host them. The main purpose of these amateur matches is primarily the strengthening of friendly relations between the participating countries. After all, as you know, sport is the best form of public diplomacy. We are all united by sincere love for this sport, striving to develop the best qualities such as courage, persistence, and commitment. You know that saying: cowards do not play hockey. I wish all the audience joyous and festive mood, strong emotions. I also wish the participating nations a successful, fair and efficient game. May the best team win!       

Belarus won the tournament 8 times. Today, the team combines famous hockey players of the national team: Tsyplakov, Bikbulatov and Antonenko. In different years in the past, they helped Belarus out of lower divisions into the elite of world hockey.

Yevgeny Gorin, CTV:
The Christmas tournament is also a possibility to take part in charity. This year, for example, teams help little Belarusians in the children's village of Istoki. These are 23 families who are bringing 154 children. And thanks to the teams, the Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus and the Presidential Sports Club BYR 240 mln has already been raised.