Vladimir Putin: “We need to significantly increase the number of people who take part in sport regularly”

Today in his speech at the meeting of the Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sport President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, has outlined the most important aspects of the new Sports and Fitness federal targeted programme 2015-2020.

“I would like to remind you that in March, we had a detailed discussion of mass sports and promoting fitness in the broadest sense of the word. Somewhat earlier we focused on creating a pool of athletes and training national teams.

However, it is only possible to achieve cardinal positive change in this and other pressing areas pertaining to sports if we have a high quality, modern infrastructure and a smoothly running system of sports and fitness events, so that people – especially the younger generation – could show their skills, improve their health and change their lifestyle.

I would like to remind you that the number of people who do sports regularly should grow significantly to reach at least 40 percent of the population of the Russian Federation by 2010. Today this figure is much lower – only 27.5 percent. There has been a significant increase, but it is not enough.

At our previous meeting we made the decision to revive the GTO fitness system, to develop community sports and fitness centres and to hold events in Russia under the aegis of the international movement Sports for All.

Today we have to decide on our next steps, especially since the Sports and Fitness federal targeted programme ends in 2015. In fact, we have met today to mark this very event: the programme ends in 2015 and we ned to work out measures to prepare the adoption of a new targeted programme for the next five years.

Early this year the Government approved the concept of this programme and its funding parameters. For your information, I can say that the preliminary budget allocations for the federal targeted programme until 2020 amount to 73.9 billion rubles with adjustment for inflation.

Today I suggest we discuss the work on this document, including clarification of what is planned in terms of creating low-cost sports facilities within easy reach – something we have already considered on numerous occasions. I am convinced that it is on this kind of local infrastructure that we need to focus the resources and efforts of the state, municipalities and public organisations.

I would like to note here that the low cost should not be achieved through lower quality. Costs could be cut, for instance, at the design stage, and in many other ways. Experts should know what I am talking about and they know this is possible.

We also need to consider incentives for large and medium-size businesses to build and run such facilities, primarily community sports centres, of course.

Among other things, the new programme should help reduce the gap between different regions of the country in the number of sports facilities. Incidentally, the number of people doing sports largely depends on the number of facilities. I will not refer to any specific regions now, but the more facilities a region has, the more people are involved in sports. And the reverse is also true: the fewer sports centres, the fewer people keep fit.

I would like to add that we should give special attention to developing the sports infrastructure in Sevastopol, the Republic of Crimea and some regions in the south of the Russian Federation, including the North Caucasus. Please note that this is not a job only for the Sports Ministry, but for other agencies as well.

Before we begin working on the new programme, we need to close all the issues left over from the previous period and draw corresponding conclusions regarding why they remained. Thus, there are serious issues with meeting sports facilities commissioning deadlines.

We also need to finalise the compilation of the National Inventory of Sports Facilities. A very important issue is the development of sports facilities in educational establishments, including the use of school infrastructure.

We have already said that in many places school sports facilities stand idle. This happens not only because the students do not do sports (I think we have made progress here and have fixed this), but we can make broader use of these facilities. This should be done carefully, of course, without any damage to the schools, but we should make maximum use of these facilities. I would like to hear from the Minister of Education regarding what is being done here.

In order to involve all groups of the population in sports and fitness it is very important to create the right conditions, especially within easy reach of their homes.

I would like to note that the most active segment of the population is people under 30. In the next age group – 30 to 60 – only 11 percent do sports, and even fewer – only 3 percent – among people over 60.

In the past few years these numbers have gone up somewhat, but overall they are very modest and lag behind those in other countries. If we intend to have, as I have said, 40 percent of the population involved in sports and fitness on a regular basis, this is where we have serious potential.

Another important aspect is the lack of regular widely accessible sports and fitness events, like the one you had here in Cheboksary today. I believe we should consider developing a system of mandatory competitions that would solve the issue on the municipal, regional and federal levels. Such competitions as national games between regions, Presidential competitions and Presidential games for all school students should all be worked into this system.

All this requires a comprehensive approach and corresponding legislative decisions.

We should look into the procedure for awarding mass sports categories that would motivate people to do sports. Primarily this applies to the younger generation, of course.”