It’s obviously easy to find an appealing occupation in sport
Construction of sports facilities should be modest in cost while being of good quality
During the visit to the Mandarin sports and recuperation centre
The Head of State has received a report on efforts to promote sport and recuperation services in Minsk, and the performance of the new facility, which was built at the request of the President. Construction lasted from January 2013 to October 2015, primarily using Minsk budgetary funds.
Major areas of work at the new complex include an aqua thermal zone, swimming lessons, and fitness and martial arts classes. Besides the swimming pool and thermal complex, there are gyms and dedicated rooms for martial arts and fitness groups. It has been popular since first opening, being located not far from a residential district, where there are no similar facilities.
After visiting the complex and chatting with visitors, the Head of State praised its conditions for sport and physical education, saying, “This is a true factory of health. The more people are here the fewer are in hospital.”
Pleasingly, increasing numbers of people are convinced that health and fitness are the way forward to enjoying a better quality of life. In Minsk alone, almost 25 percent of the population regularly exercises, against 5.7 percent in 2012. Demand for sports infrastructure is rising, inspiring Minsk authorities to plan construction of swimming pools and gyms, as approved by the President. He is keen to see the Night Hockey League gain a permanent residence and it seems that private investors are ready to inject funds.
Meanwhile, state budgetary funds also need to be directed towards the regions, with construction of sports facilities continuing, regardless of private investor funding. Several key factors must be taken into account, with residents being made to realise that facilities are expensive to build, so services won’t be free of charge. However, prices will be modest, and sites located within walking distance of main centres of housing. The Mandarin centre is a great example. Several days before its opening, it launched the sale of annual passes and, from the first days, it has been busy.
The President underlines that a great many state-run sports facilities have been established already. “People should understand that such places are expensive to build and, in turn, their services also have a price tag,” notes Mr. Lukashenko.
He believes that simple and affordable swimming pools and sports facilities are essential, instructing that such sites are built. He comments, “Everything should be simple, cheap, beautiful, and of high quality.” He believes, particularly, that quality is the main factor.
The Head of State has urged the Sports and Tourism Ministry and the Minsk City Executive Committee to turn unused premises into sports facilities, providing affordable services, since huge resources won’t be needed to launch them.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lukashenko has urged that all facilities should operate at full capacity from dawn until dusk, so that people can attend at a time convenient. He underlines that facilities need to be used wisely. “Once constructed, it’s necessary to organise the schedule to allow people to attend at any time, from 6am until midnight. Everything should be busy.”
The President has tasked civil servants with helping to popularise a healthy lifestyle, in which exercise and sport play a major role. The Head of State is also keen to see domestic production of fitness equipment, since it is rather expensive. Taking into consideration the vigorous development of sport and the construction of sports facilities, huge funds are needed to buy imported equipment. Accordingly, the Head of State emphasises, “It’s necessary to produce domestic, Belarusian, fitness equipment, manufacturing for fitness gyms.”
Such import substitution efforts should reduce the cost of equipping sports facilities, reducing prices for their services. Some major Belarusian enterprises may become involved in production of Belarusian fitness equipment.
The President stresses that more efforts are needed to promote physical education, sports and a healthy lifestyle. He asserts, “These are real health factories. The more people who attend, the fewer hospital patients we’ll have. The state will only benefit.”
In his opinion, more sports centres are needed within walking distance in Minsk, and across the country in general. These should include not only gyms but open-air sports grounds and cycle tracks. The President is keen to see prices kept affordable, although recognises that facilities should not operate at a loss. He believes that every resident, countrywide, should have the opportunity to become involved in sport and a healthy lifestyle incorporating exercise.
Vitally interested in the health of its citizens, the state is ready to fully support people’s aspiration towards a healthy lifestyle. Modern sports facilities should inspire citizens in making positive changes, with attending a gym or swimming pool becoming not only a personal choice but a fashionable trend.
By Vasily Kharitonov