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Visit to the National Children’s Sport and Health Centre

February 8, 2015, Sochi

Vladimir Putin visited the National Children’s Sport and Health Centre in Sochi, where he looked over the medical facilities and the rooms where the children live, watched them in training and spoke with the trainers and the young athletes.

The centre was established at the President’s initiative in March 2013. It has developed its own educational approach based on a synthesis of sport, culture, education, and healthy living practices. As well as attending training sessions, the young athletes follow a programme of general schoolwork, cultural and leisure activities and a variety of extra-curricular options.

The centre provides sports and general education to gifted children aged 10–16 who show potential to become future Olympic athletes in winter sports. So far, the centre has welcomed 1,600 children from 36 different regions of the country. The centre uses facilities built for the Sochi Olympics: the Shaiba small ice arena and ice hockey training rink. The centre has 27 teachers, 12 coaches, and 7 medical workers.

After visiting the centre, Mr Putin held a meeting with Government members, officials from the Presidential Executive Office and teachers’ representatives on organising children’s sport and leisure programmes using the facilities inherited from the Olympics.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

Yesterday, we celebrated one year since the start of the Olympics. I propose that we discuss one aspect of the Olympic legacy today. As you know, we are here at one of the best hotels. Actually this is not a single hotel but is a whole complex with a rating of 4-star plus, practically a five-star hotel. I propose that we give this hotel to our country’s children. 

We want to bring children here from three different types of schools. First are the sports schools, and this includes not only the popular winter sports such as hockey and figure skating. Children should come here from all around the country, just as [Sports Minister] Mr Mutko has already got them doing. This is what we planned from the outset and the programme is already underway. The second plan is to bring children here from the music schools, which, as you know, already have a long tradition and exist throughout the country. They should come here from the music and ballet schools. The third group is children from the maths and physics schools, which we also have throughout the country. 

The idea is to create an educational centre that would welcome children from all around the country, just as happens now for the sports schools, for a period of 20–25 days. The goal is to put in place the conditions needed so that classes can take place here all year round for the children who come for 20 or so days, and also to develop the first stage in searching out gifted children and then giving them the continued support they need through to university and subsequent employment.

You remember that I spoke in the [Annual Presidential] Address about our plans to introduce presidential grants for the most gifted young people entering our universities. We need to start the process from the school classroom and follow the grant recipients right the way through. 

Of course this alone is not enough. We need to develop a comprehensive training and selection system. It could draw on the experience of the existing centres such as Okean in the Far East, Artek in Crimea, and Orlyonok here on the Black Sea coast, but it should be more specialised, with modern resources and equipment.

This requires the corresponding methods and training approaches of course, and coordinated work. It would need to combine the general school programme with the specialised classes.

In terms of infrastructure, we already have everything we need. We already have the sports side of the centre up and running and have given them the facilities they need. We gave them the hockey arena, where the children are training now. Close by is an excellent training rink, which the young figure skaters could use.

As for the music and ballet classes and the maths and physics side of things, we still need to examine the possibilities. I think the best option would be to build a separate school. This is something we can discuss. There are plenty of facilities here and not all are currently being used. We could set up something separate, build new facilities or adapt existing ones. With 700 rooms here there are plenty of possibilities to consider. We could divide the resources so as to be able to take in around 200 children from each of the three different groups. 

Initially of course this project will require help from the Government and the relevant ministries. I ask the Culture Ministry and the Education and Science Ministry to get involved and develop their own programmes along the same lines as the one the Sports Ministry drafted and is carrying out. 

I think that we would eventually be able to have the whole project run on private financing and develop an excellent private children’s centre. We have already set up a fund and some of the fund’s founders are here today. We have already raised substantial money so as to purchase this facility from its owners, compensate them in full for the construction and other costs. They will not make a profit on the deal, but they accept this and are ready to do it.

The next step would be to build up the base capital, the endowment, and gradually reduce the burden on the budget, relieve the state authorities of these expenses. I think that these are realistic plans.

As things stand at the moment, the Sports Ministry has made the plans for its part of the financing. I spoke with both ministers and with the Prime Minister. Everyone likes the idea. I think it is a noble idea and a beautiful one too.

I think that if we give the children the chance to spend time together, the kids involved in physics and maths and the kids involved in the arts, let them spend time with each other, see each other’s talents and gain some new knowledge, this would create what would be an interesting and really very unique educational centre.

That is all I wanted to say at the start.


February 8, 2015, Sochi