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The International Conference “Sport and Society. Open Talk” has started

The conference has been organized by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation under the auspices of the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation

(en) Текст новости

The event was timed to the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace established by the United Nations General Assembly. It connected leading experts in physical education and philanthropy, representatives of government and sport community, developing a platform for cooperation for all stakeholders.

The conference started with a plenary discussion on contribution of social sport projects to combating the crisis, achieving sustainable development goals and Russia’s national priorities. Oksana Oracheva, the General Director of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, explained how sport fits in the Foundation’s mission.  

“Social sport is an important tool to connect communities and support proactive people who are ready to implement positive changes and build better future. It is included in the Foundation’s agenda intersecting with culture, education and philanthropy. Our first step in social sport development is launching the project “Sport for Everyone”. This is our pilot initiative that enables us to identify existing social sport projects and support them. It should be noted that non-commercial organizations expressed great interest in the competition: we received more than 900 applications and due to this fact increased the grant fund from 30 to 100 million rubles”, noted Oksana Oracheva.

Irina Osadchaya, the Deputy Director on special projects, “National Priorities”, talked on sport development in Russia and its support at a national level. She said: “All national projects are created within the national priorities and comply with sustainable development goals.  The federal project “Sport is a Way of Life” includes several dimensions: creating the infrastructure, developing training personnel and motivational programs. The project has two main goals: increasing availability of sport and creating a community of allies who will stimulate development through separate initiatives. And the information campaign, explaining to people an importance of physical activity, has a special significance”.

David Evangelista, the Regional President and Managing Director, Europe and Eurasia of Special Olympics, also participated in the discussion.  He stated: “This is an international Olympics where people with special needs get a unique opportunity for socialization. Sport is a universal language: it takes away barriers and allows us to become inclusive. Special Olympics 2022 will be held in Kazan.  More than 2 thousand athletes from 90 countries will gather in one of the Russian sport centers and demonstrate their sport abilities, and what is more they will find friends and colleagues”.

Guzal Kamalova, the Senior Specialist on Protection Children, UNICEF, Europe and Central Asia Office, explained that the organization has significant experience in involving children in social life through sport projects.  And this enables them realize effectively their potential. She said: “UNICEF has a lot of successful projects for sustainable development all over the world. It is important to continue work in this direction and do everything to make sport available for every child regardless the financial situation of their family, their physical condition and mental development. This will help all children who are involved in sport to become leaders in the future”.  

The conference continued with an interactive game with the representatives of non-commercial organizations who have practical experience in implementing social sport projects. They talked about positive influence of social sport on groups of people who need special support.

Anastasia Pletmintseva, the Director and Co-Founder of the Charitable Foundation “Sport for Life” presented the project “Marathon in Dark” that enables blind people do running. She said: “The key effect of the project is getting positive experience through achieving a goal. Volunteers who communicate with blind people do everything to help a participant to run the marathon and then transfer this positive experience to other areas of life”. 

Anna Portugalova, the Director of the Charitable Foundation “Down Side Up” and the Founder of the Charitable Foundation for support people with Down syndrome “Love Syndrome”, together with her colleagues develop football clubs for children with Down syndrome. She noted “This project showed us that children with special needs are able to socialize and interact with the society. When we were launching this initiative, we had doubts, but we immediately saw progress and pleasure with which children played football and communicated with each other. At present, there are football clubs for children with Down syndrome in 12 cities of our country. And this is thanks to this project”.

Grigory Krasnykh, the Head of the program of the Charitable organization “Harbor” noted that football trainings for children from children’s homes within the program “More than Sport” are an effective tool for integration to an ecosystem of an adult person who is responsible for himself and people around him. He said: "The most important thing is social adaptation of orphans. We do not have any special criteria. It is enough that children want to participate in the program. It is also important that the outlook of trainers who participate in the project is changing and they communicate these changes to their families, friends and colleagues”.

Alla Rekova, the Director of the “Center for Social Technologies Development” talked about practices of an online club 50+. With the help of the club, it became possible to involve the elderly in regular physical trainings that together with cognitive development classes produces a good synergetic effect. Alla claimed: “We managed to develop a community of like-minded people who are enthusiastic about healthy life style”.  

The experts offered a wider view on the role of social sport projects at the final session of the conference first day. They discussed how social sport changes the life of communities and transforms territories. One of the greatest examples is the marathon in the village Paris in the Chelyabinsk region which attracts thousands of sportsmen and tourists to this place each year. Svetlana Mamedalina, an organizer of the race, notes: “Thanks to this sport initiative the local government has started paying attention to the village needs and allocating money for improvement of the territory. This project enabled us to attract investors who help with the village sport gyms and thus we make sport available for everyone. Moreover, this initiative develops tourism. Guests get acquainted with the culture of Nagaybaksk district, local cuisine and traditions. This mutually beneficial initiative allows the village to develop and bring a lot of positive emotions to all marathon participants”.

Olga Pugach, the author of the project “Cultural Plogging”, the senior administrator of the department for development and implementation, Tsaritsyno museum and nature reserve, explained that plogging empowers the race participants, they sincerely feel that the territory is their own.  She said: “Once a person has run through the territory for the first time, he won’t be able to observe the place where he does sport, walks and relaxes  the way he did it before. He will perceive the territory as his home which he wants to tidy up and be responsible for it”.

According to Valentin Rabotenko, the Founder and the Director of the International competition of street culture and sport “KARDO”, his team made a lot of efforts to prove that a street is not something criminal and destructive. He said: “A street is a huge training ground for us where city inhabitants make sense of their life and create their lifestyle. In the framework of our project the dialogue on street socialization and connection of all street cultures has started for the first time”.  

Finally, Sven Soderberg, the Co-Head of the organization Spirit of Football shared his experience. He pointed out: ““Our slogan is “One World – One Ball”. When we hold various sport events, we take the ball which represents peace and unity for us. Our goal is to unite efforts of different people through football, make them inspired by the idea and become a part of the large community”.

Andrei Sharonov, the President of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, and Natalya Kaminarskaya, the Director of the “Blagosfera” Center were moderators of the first conference day.

The second day of the conference will take place on April, 7th. It starts with an online workout from fitness clubs X-Fit in Russia. Ruslan Panov, a TV presenter, an expert, a counselor and a coordinator of group training programs in X-Fit in Russia, will conduct the workout. Then a series of discussions on adapting social sport projects to the pandemic situation, searching for staff and resources to implement such initiatives will take place.

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