Procter and Gamble sponsored a Russian club. Volleyball players advertised “Ariel” powder and hung out in America

The story of Tanais, who was the base team of the Russian youth team.In the 1990s, the city of Novomoskivsk in the Tula region was an important point on the volleyball map of Russia. Enthusiasts created a men’s team there at the local plant “Bythim”, which became a subsidiary of the multinational company Procter and Gamble.

The Americans allocated money for a social project that grew – “Tanais” became the base team of the youth team of Russia. She won the European Championship in 1994 and the World Cup in 1995. Aleksey Kazakov, Sergey Tetyukhin, Aleksandr Berezin, and many other volleyball players played for the team, which then grew to the national team. BO Sport remembers The Tanais’s history with its former coach and players.

The coach of Tanais for thirteen years was Lev Utkin, who now inspects the matches of the Russian championship. In different years he worked in tandem with Alexander Karikov, Valery Alferov, Sergey Tsvetnov – those coaches who then took the Russian team to international tournaments.

“In 1990 I was invited by the director of Bythima Vladimir Loginov,” Utkin recalls. – At one time he was the director of the plastic plant, which contained the eponymous women’s team, which even played in the top league of the USSR championship. In Novomoskivsk, he and deputy Vyacheslav Semenikin decided to assemble a men’s team. I went to Moscow to the then president of the federation Valentin Shchukov and offered to make a youth team, which we will gather talented and promising boys from all over the country – as an alternative to boarding schools, which were not enough. He gave the go-ahead – and so began the history of “Thanais.”

The name of the team was invented by a woman, an engineer of the plant. Tanais is the ancient Greek name of the Don River, the origin of which is located in Novomoskivsk. The first set of “Tanais” were the guys born in 1975 – 1976. One local Tula guy, Vladimir Castornov, whose mother Valentina Laryukhina played for the same “Plastic” – also got into the team.

“In Novomoskivsk we finished school, 11th grade. Of those who then got into that “golden” youth team, from the very beginning in “Tanais” were me and Castornov. In 1992, Alexey Kazakov and several Ural guys joined us, in 1993 – Sergey Tetyukhin – says Berezin. – I remember, in the first year we “flew” all in a row – men easily beat 16 – 17-year-old boys. But we developed rapidly due to good playing practice and in the 1992/93 season we went on the rise – we reached the first league, at that time the second-strongest division of the country.”

In the fall of 1993, Tanais traveled to Cincinnati, where Procter and Gamble is headquartered. The management of “Bythim” signed a new partnership agreement there, and Russian volleyball players were asked to play with the U.S. company’s labor collectives during the week to show themselves. The level was incomparable, so the players just mixed with amateurs and played against each other. But there were also full matches with police and firefighters.

“What is most memorable? It’s hard to tell. There were some discoveries for us every day. As they say, sweeter carrots at home have not seen anything, and here the abundance of all tasty and interesting. The experience was amazing, we just hung out for a week. We got to the American national holiday Labor Day, so there was a festive atmosphere, fireworks everywhere,” recalls Castornov, now a famous volleyball agent.

About the same trip remembers and Berezin, noting that at that time for young guys it was an incredible journey to another world.

“We had fun for a whole week. Only the meeting with Olympic champion Karch Kiray was remembered from the sport. I think everyone has a picture of him. We were lucky enough to get to the beach volleyball tournament with his participation. It was cool,” adds Alexander, who now has his own beach volleyball school.