Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the board of the Council for Physical Fitness and Sports


"We must set the priorities for the advancement of university sports in the government’s strategy for the development of physical fitness. Our key priority is to dramatically increase the number of university students going in for sports, from 35% in 2009 to 80% by the year 2020. This number holds the key to our future and to future generations of healthy and strong young Russians."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's opening remarks:

Esteemed colleagues,

We have several issues to discuss today, and one of the most important is the advancement of university sports.

The importance of this issue is clear, both in terms of nurturing talent for competitive sports and promoting physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle among Russia's youth.

We must set the priorities for the advancement of university sports in the government's strategy for the development of physical fitness, and elsewhere. Our key priority is to dramatically increase the number of university students going in for sports, from 35% in 2009 to our target of 80% by the year 2020. This number holds the key to our future and to future generations of healthy and strong young Russians.

As we all know, young people experience many new opportunities, passions and interests during their university years. And it is important not to allow sports to be eclipsed by other interests. Clearly, physical fitness and an active lifestyle are once again in fashion with young Russians.

University students are the most responsive group in Russia, the one that is always willing to support new and original projects, even ones that are quite demanding. Our approach to advancing competitive sports and promoting recreational sports must therefore be modern, effective and even attention-grabbing in a sense.

Russia will be the site of major sporting events in the next few years. We are now preparing to host the Universiade in Canada - sorry, I mean Kazan - and the Winter Olympics in Sochi. We'll actually be returning to the issue of Canada shortly. This is what they call a Freudian slip...

One of the issues on today's agenda is the funding for Russia's participation in the Vancouver Olympics. We've received documents on this from the Audit Chamber, which we will also look over today.

We must use the preparations for those competitions as well as their legacy to popularise sports. We need to get as many young people as possible involved in these projects.

I believe Russia should try to host as many large-scale sporting events as possible. We have already submitted our bid to host the 2018 football World Cup, and we have every reason to expect our bid to win.

I would also like to suggest that we consider hosting the 2017 Winter Universiade in Sochi. After the 2014 Olympics, we will be able to use Sochi for other top-level sporting events, without incurring excessive costs. I would like this body to study the possibility of a Russian bid and to submit specific proposals on how to promote one.

And, of course, we expect Russia's student athletes to make a good showing in Kazan and Sochi, as they really are competitive. Our student squads regularly participate in universiades and other international championships, and they often finish in top places.

Vitaly Mutko: Thank you, Mr Putin.

Mr Putin, members of the board, distinguished guests,

Advancing university sports is a priority for the overall advancement of physical fitness and sports throughout the country. The aim of the university sport programme is to get more students involved in physical fitness and sports, and to train athletes for Russian national teams.

Advancing university sports is a complex challenge. Students get involved in physical fitness and sports in two ways: physical fitness classes in institutions of higher education and schools and extra-curricular activities, which include university sports, such as students participating in Russian national and international competitions.

Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko will cover this issue in more detail, while I will talk about the main problems affecting the advancement of university sports and ways of solving them. The university sport system of general and higher education includes the Russian Student Union, 3,678 physical fitness and sports departments at higher educational institutions, 470 sport clubs and organisations, 13 student sport associations and 63 local student sport associations.

The Russian Federation has 1,114 higher educational institutions with 3.1 million full-time students and 2,564 secondary educational institutions with 1.6 million students.

According to available information, around 34% of all Russian students are involved in physical fitness and sports, and there are 27,000 specialists to train them in institutions of higher education, colleges and schools.

Since 2005, the number of students involved in physical fitness and sports has gone up by almost 10%. The number of college and school students involved in physical fitness and sports stands at about 40%.

However, as Mr Putin already mentioned in his opening remarks, according to the strategy until 2020, we must increase the number of students involved in physical fitness and sports to 60% by 2015 and to 80% by 2020.

In order to improve these numbers, we must increase the number of school and college students involved in physical fitness and sports by 4% and the number of university and institute students by 3.2% each year.

 This is a serious challenge. We need the cooperation of all the relevant federal authorities and student sport organisations to solve this and other serious tasks.

The first task is the university sports infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2009, under federal programmes for the advancement of physical fitness and sports and the federal education and development programme, we invested about 3.5 billion roubles in sports infrastructure, built about 30 modern facilities for educational institutions of the Ministry of Education, other state agencies, the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy, and by the 2013 Universiade in Kazan we will have built a major health, sport and educational centre based on the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport and Tourism and the Russian International Olympic University. However, the development of the resource base still poses a problem and hinders the advancement of university sports.

Eleven high-tech sport facilities will be given to Tatarstan institutions of higher education following the Universiade.

Mr Putin, you have recently supported a special programme initiated by United Russia to build 500 swimming pools in higher educational institutions. Possibly, we should create a new section for the federal target programmes devoted to providing financial support for higher educational institutions on the basis of this special programme.

We also think it is necessary to include a sports component in the programme to develop federal universities, which, as you know, were established by the president's order.  It would be great if federal universities had not only educational and science components, but a powerful sport component as well.

The second task is the overall support for university sports and student sport clubs, which are the core of the sports infrastructure. The status of student sport clubs as a structural subdivision of a higher education institution was registered last year in the standard provisions on institutions of higher education.

We must accelerate the establishment of sport clubs in higher education institutions, which are an important component of the Strategy for the Development of Physical Fitness and Sports, as they form the organisational component and help create a new national physical fitness and sports system. With this in mind, we should provide for the inclusion of sport clubs in the curricula of educational institutions, as, for example, was done in the State Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics and some other higher education institutions, resolve the issues of financial support for sport clubs and for student teams that participate in local and national competitions, including the use of private resources. At present, financing for student sport clubs is a serious problem.  

The third  - and perhaps most important - way to promote university sports is to establish a system of student sports competitions, ranging from local university sporting matches to national and international student sporting competitions. We have begun work on this together with the Ministry of Education and Science, university sports unions, associations and groups. Today, Russian universities hold activities to promote over 60 types of sports, the most popular being badminton, boxing, basketball, gymnastics, skiing, track and field, swimming, certain types of martial arts, football, chess, table tennis, aerobics and fitness training.

The calendar of national student competitions includes some 70 sports events a year among 52 types of sports. Beginning in 2008, Russia has resumed holding student sports games in summer and winter sports, student sports festivals, championships initiated by the Russian Student Sports Union in Olympic sports included in the World Student Games programme. Three days ago, the 2nd All-Russia Student Games kicked off in the city of Penza, with its final rounds drawing 2,795 participants from 90 universities competing in 13 types of sports.

Members from Russia's 13 associations and leagues are playing an active role in promoting sports among students. I would particularly like to mention the Student Basketball Association, which was launched in 2007. From 2007 through 2008, the Association carried out its first pilot project of promoting student basketball, which drew some 300 teams. Since 2007, Russia's Futsal Association has implemented the "Futsal for Universities" project, which has received your support already and involves a total of 123,000 students and 1,790 teams from 450 universities. I suppose Alexander Konovalov will elaborate on the leagues' development and related issues. We will make every effort to provide financial and organisational support for these projects. From 2008 through 2010, a total of 270 million roubles will be allocated from the federal budget for these sporting events. We have also introduced amendments to Russia's sports classification system allowing winners of national student competitions to receive the rank of master of sports.

The winners of world universiades will be awarded the title of International Master of Sport.

Speaking about competitions, I would like to draw attention to the issues of promoting, developing and supporting university sports.

The Second All-Russia Summer Universiade is taking place in Penza. Unfortunately, Mr Prime Minister, we face big problems with the coverage of these events. We would like to see more serious recommendations, especially to the federal channels, regarding the support and promotion of university sport.

Fourth. The development of university sport is particularly important for creating a reserve of talented athletes. 

University students represent the Russian Federation at major international competitions, including the Olympic, Paralympic and Surdolympic Games, as well as the World Summer and Winter Universiades.

At the Beijing Olympics, 65% of the athletes were students. The Russian student team made a good showing at the 2009 Winter and Summer World Student Games. At the last Paralympic Summer and Winter Games more than 20% of the Russian teams were students.

At the First Youth Games to be held in Singapore in 2010, one in every ten members of our team is a student of an Olympic Reserve sports college or school.

However, there are some objective problems that prevent university sports from becoming the foundation of Russian international sports, as is the case in other developed nations. 

If we manage to use the university infrastructure as a basis for creating a comfortable environment with lots of sporting activities and good results comparable to professional sports, it will make it possible to identify athletic talent among older age groups and upgrade the level of amateur athletes who have not made it to professional teams by the age of 17-18 to enable them to extend their athletic careers by at least five or six years, if they want to combine them with acquiring an education and a profession outside of their sport.

This approach is being tried out already. For example, in the Republic of Bashkortostan a Concept for the Development of Student Sport envisages a multi-tiered system of athlete training under the "secondary school - college - university" scheme.

That enabled the Republic of Bashkortostan to solve two tasks: to have 70% of students regularly engage in physical fitness and sport activities, while the more talented among them move on to the international sports level.

As for the higher education institutions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, we plan to turn them into pilot sports training centres whose main aim will be to train national teams using students in the near term.

One of these pilot centres at the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture and Sports yielded three Olympic medals in the long jump in track-and-field in Athens in 2004. A constellation of athletes from this academy took part in the latest Olympics.

The main aim of these centres is to concentrate the resources of higher education institutions on training reserve athletes to ensure continuous education and the full cycle of research, scientific and methodological development to introduce it in practice.

The material and technical basis of the universities which have certain traditions, experience and conditions for the further development of student sports can be strengthened by issuing government grants allocated for specific sports. We have shown you, Mr Putin, an exhibition at the entrance: practically all our academies and physical fitness and sports institutes have been dedicated to certain sports. They will develop scientific support for international sports and will also provide a scientific, methodological and training base.

Fifth. The coaches and training personnel. At present there are 27,000 full-time specialists of physical fitness and sports working at universities and vocational colleges. That is 1,800 more than in 2005. In 2009, 566 specialists joined these training institutions for the first time.

Unfortunately, today university sports trainers are mostly over 50 and some have reached retirement age. Speaking about personnel, it has to be said that there is not a single higher education institution in the country that trains physical fitness and sport specialists.

And, of course, it is necessary to overhaul the compensation system and upgrade the social status of the physical fitness teacher at universities.

Sixth is the system of managing university sports. I am convinced that the leading role should be played by the Russian Student Sports Union, which has been given back its former name Burevestnik. I think that Oleg Matitsyn, its president, will speak here today, but in all fairness the Russian Student Union has not been playing that role so far. I think it will continue to be more of a problem than help. The Student Union is a major public association comprising 700 higher education institutions and 2,500 secondary specialised schools, it cooperates with 13 leagues, is a member of the International Student Union and it must play a major role in strengthening, organising and holding competitions among students.

We are ready to consider the issue of changing the status and rendering financial help through subsidies to the Student Union, which, of course, should become a powerful and strong organisation.

When speaking about the development of university sports, one has to mention the development of sport among disabled students, of whom there are about 25,000 in universities and 14,800 in colleges. Perhaps Vladimir Lukin (Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation) will touch upon this issue.  I only want to say that the above proposal should spread to sports among disabled students. That is number one.

Number two. All the newly built sports facilities we will be opening under the federal targeted programme will be equipped for the disabled, Even this base here is fully equipped for disabled athletes wishing to train. Disabled fencers are training for Olympic Games and world championships here.

Thirdly, in 2010 centres for athletes with disabilities will be created in all the Russian regions.

Esteemed colleagues, the 2013 World Universiade in Kazan should give a new impetus to the development of student sports. By the time of the Universiade we must have a clear-cut system for student sports. I hope those present will express their recommendations on this matter. 

I am convinced that the implementation of the proposed set of measures will meet the targets of the Strategy for the Development of Physical Fitness, and by 2020 will get 80% of students involved in regular physical fitness and sport activities and will enable student athletes to compete successfully in major international events. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. 

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