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Putin Advocates Russian Sports School Revival

May 17, 2011  - Craig Lord

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called for a revival of Russian sports school that once helped the Soviet Union become a world-class sports power. Part of his drive includes an intention to keep the best of Russian coaching talent in Russia and to woo foreign coaches to the country in an effort to improve his nation's sporting results.

A specialised internet portal is planned for 2012 to help to improve professional skill of coaches and teachers, he told a meeting of the presidium of the presidential council for the development of physical culture and sports. In his opening statement, Putin noted that Russians expect only the highest results of its athletes but had not then provided the conditions to ensure those results.

Logistical problems would be overcome, he said. Almost all of the nation's 146 higher educational establishments that train sports specialists needed to be overhauled, he said. About nine billion roubles have already been allocated for revamping centres in 2010-2011. 

Most relevant to swimming, a reconstruction plan includes 500 new pools at higher education establishments. “But even now we have an absurd situation at a number of educational establishments, which train swimming or athletics coaches but have no swimming pools or stadiums,” Putin noted. “This problem needs serious scrutiny.”

He told delegates: “The most important task is to preserve the continuity of personnel policy, to preserve traditions. It goes without saying that personnel mobility is a natural thing in the present-day world, but we should try to do our best to help Russian and foreign coaches realise their potential in our country, our task is to create favourable conditions for that.

"It is vital to establish a closer cooperation with the best foreign schools, including sending Russian specialists to be trained abroad. Highly-qualified specialists are needed to start a comprehensive educational process not only at the existing educational establishments but also at new innovation centres."

Some plans are already underway: the International Educational Centre of the International Federation of Student Sport opens in Kazan before the World Unviversity Games in 2013, while the Russian International Olympic University opens in Sochi, host city to the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in 2014.

“It is necessary to think how to make the best of these centres in Kazan and Sochi to enhance the international authority of the Russian sports science and education," said Putin. "In other words, to make people want to come here to obtain high-quality knowledge and state-of-the-art technologies."

Sports science and education would play an important role, he noted, saying:  “A couple of years ago there were about 80 training and medico-biological laboratories at sports educational establishments, while now only five research institutions carry out all the work … But our specialised higher educational establishments need 154 complexes to study the impacts of physical and psychological stress on an athlete’s organism", yet there were just 30 such establishments left in Russia. 

Backing up the revamp of the sporting infrastructure would be a rejuvenated talent-spotting scheme. “Even some twenty years ago we had an efficient system of selecting and training talented children," said Putin. "The system was based on a network of some 300 sports boarding schools. Now we have not more than ten such schools. The system of selection should be revived."

He also called for greater efforts to improve and extend lessons in physical culture "to make them interesting and easy for children with various physical faculties and health conditions".

An ideal environment in which to instil an anti-doping, anti-cheating culture too, through history urges constant vigilance on that score given the systematic abuse that became a part of some sports school systems in former Soviet bloc countries 20 and more years ago.