Family of famous tennis player to reveal mysteries and beauties of Belarus to television viewers
A new TV reality roadshow, entitled The Mirnyi Tour Belarus, starts this autumn on TV channels Belarus 2 and Belarus 24. The programme aims to show the ‘real’ Belarus behind the epithets of ‘blue-eyed’ and ‘hospitable’.
Where do Belarusians spend the weekend and what family recreation possibilities do Belarusian towns and villages offer? Famous tennis player Max Mirnyi has taken the wheel to drive over 2000km through Belarus, together with wife Ksenia, children Melania, Petra and Demid, and father Nikolai Nikolaevich.
For a week, the Mirnyi family drove through almost the entire country, filmed visiting Vitebsk, Polotsk, Braslav, Grodno, Lida, Nesvizh, Mir and other Belarusian cities.
“I’ve always wanted to show Belarusians where they can go to relax and what to see: we have so many beautiful places here at home,” says Max. “It would be difficult to show all this using just a photo camera, although, that week, with Ksenia, I took more than 2,000 photos: one for every kilometre of the journey. Everywhere, we were followed by the camera crew.”
“At first, it was a little uncomfortable,” confesses Max’s wife. “After all, the children and I do not appear as often before the cameras as Max. Soon, we began to enjoy it though, as we were sharing our knowledge of our beloved Belarus. First of all, we were doing it for the children. Max and I always try to share our experience and learning with them.”
Meanwhile, the adult Mirnyis learned and discovered a great deal.
“We packed everything in two cars and fixed an extra trunk on the roof. We felt like real tourists,” says Max, smiling. “We went without knowing the road so we were roaming, discovering new villages. When we drove towards Grodno, we were surprised to see a village called ‘Bali’ — just like the famous resort island! I already knew a lot about Belarus, having read about the history and sights, but had never seen them so close. I’d never visited the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the Braslav Lakes or Brest Fortress. I discovered cities and villages and was surprised that all Belarus is so well-kept, clean and incredibly beautiful. In every village, there are painted fences and a church; many have a castle next to the church. Wherever we arrived, we were welcomed incredibly hospitably. In every city, we felt comfortable. If I didn’t need to be close to the international airport, I’d happily exchange Minsk for some other city — such as Lida.”
Besides walks, the family tried fishing, swimming and, even, skydiving. Max’s father bailed out from a 9-storey building in Vitebsk.
“I’d always dreamt of skydiving,” says Nikolai. “But had never done so. My doctor forbade me and Max was afraid, but it was an opportunity! I think my grandchildren were inspired by this act of bravery.”
The Mirnyi family rode in a carriage, and tried boating and fighting with swords...
“Belarus is a country where you don’t simply go on trips but really relax,” says Max. “Wherever we stayed, there were beautiful stadiums and swimming pools. In the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, we even discovered a tennis court! At the residence of Father Frost, the children entered a world of fairy tales. If anyone doubts whether Father Frost exists, you’ll be convinced here.”
“It was important for us that the children saw the countryside and their native culture,” emphasises Ksenia. “Our youngest, three-year-old Demid, while riding in the car, learned how to distinguish corn from wheat in the fields. We even stopped and picked a spike to demonstrate where bread comes from. Demid learned a phrase written on the stones near the road: ‘Take care of the forest’. Throughout the trip, he read the sign each time it appeared. He also promised Father Frost that he’d become a fire fighter, to defend the Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
Yuri Yaroshik and Konstantin Pridybailo, who came up with the idea for the show, feel sure that viewers will enjoy following the friendly family’s journey. Filled with energy and good cheer, this is the first such Belarusian TV reality roadshow, promoting the country’s most beautiful sites and giving a little insight into the famous family also.
During the trip, Max joined participants of the Nike Junior Tour, taking place countrywide. Five years ago, Max Mirnyi initiated Belarus’ membership of the prestigious international tennis tournament (won by such world stars as Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Gael Monfils). Since then, the best young tennis players of Belarus have had the chance to reach the finals of the competition, hosted by Florida, in the USA.
“Across the districts, children, coaches and sports managers should understand that we are paying attention to tennis: not only in the capital but everywhere. In every town, I saw thousands of enthusiastic children’s eyes. We should be doing all we can to help them realise their potential,” asserts Max. “History shows that champions are often born in the most remote villages. There is still much to be done but I’m sure that, if we direct our energy, money and time to promoting tennis, it will work. We’ll find new champions.”