Exclusive Interview: Stan Tugbaev, DB, Steel Tigers
A Glimpse at American Football in Russia
Many Americans would be surprised to learn that American Football is growing rapidly in popularity outside of the United States. Many countries have followed in the footsteps of Canada, Germany, and China, and have developed their own leagues composed of dozens of teams. Among many is a league in Russia, whose league has recently been attracting attention through social media.
I got the opportunity to connect with Stan Tugbaev, the hard-hitting safety for the Perm Steel Tigers, a team located in Perm, Russia.
- Name: Stan Tugbaev
- Height: 5’9” (180cm)
- Weight: 198lbs
- Position: FS/CB
- Number: #37
- Team: Perm Steel Tigers
- Country: Russia
Social Media: (Instagram)
- What team do you play for? What Position?
Since 2010, I’ve been playing for Steel Tigers team from the city of Perm (Russia). From the beginning, I played CB (cornerback), and in 2013 I was transferred to the position FS (free safety). DB is my favorite position.
- How long have you been playing American Football in Russia?
I have played football for 8 years. Until 2010, there was no team in my city and I dreamed of moving to St. Petersburg or Moscow, in order to engage in football.
- How did you first get involved with the sport? How old were you?
Before football, I was engaged in kickboxing, basketball, hockey and soccer (he started at school from the age of 10).
- How many games do you play in a season?
In the regular season, we have 8 to 10 games plus playoff games. On average, we play 12 games a year.
- How many teams are in your division/league?
We play in the Russian Championship – LAF
In 2017, the league had 20 teams, and in 2018 in the league there were 16 teams because they refused to participate in this year’s 2 divisions. Our league is divided into 5 divisions: Premier, North, Center, the Urals, and the South. In 2018 the divisions North and South left, and the other divisions merged into the Division and Ural Division. We play in the Ural Division.
- What does your daily schedule look like? How often do you have practices/workouts?
Football in Russia is not a professional sport. All players either work or study.
In a week I have 6 – 7 workouts. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I work with iron in the gym for 2 hours. On Tuesday and Thursday before the game season, we have a running session for 1 hour. On Friday, the theoretical preparation for the upcoming game is about 3-4 hours. Saturday and Sunday football training is for 2 hours. There are also trainings for children, women, and juniors, which I also attend.
- Do you only play teams in Russia? Or do you play teams from other countries as well?
Our city is located in the central part of Russia. That does not allow us to take part in the European championships, but we also play with Kazakhstan.
- Have you ever had any aspirations, goals, or dreams to play professional football in the United States, Canada, or elsewhere?
Yes, of course! I dream of playing in Europe with the best teams, and I dreamed of going to college in the United States to become a professional player. Now, I want to win the Russian Championship and get into the Russian team, but so far our team is only 3rd.
- Do you watch American football at all? (Either College, or NFL)
Yes, I regularly watch the NFL, and usually 1 time per week watching college football.
- If so, what is your favorite team?
My favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL
- Do you have a favorite player?
I follow the following players: Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman (49ers), Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, and more
- What is your favorite part about playing the game?
In the game I love to do the moves, as well as to anticipate the actions of offensive players
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
In 2012, I also trained for a football referee, which greatly improved the quality of my game and the game of my team.
The quality of the game also rises in the rare camps organized by the American specialists in the program: “Heads Up Football” (Billy Elmore and Michael Haince). Also, players from the NCAA who play with us, like legionaries