To bring champions up — free children’s combat sambo school opens in Kazan

The first gym for children from troubled families opened in the city

To bring champions up — free children’s combat sambo school opens in Kazan
Photo: Margarita Golovatenko

A free army hand-to-hand and sambo combat school for children from troubled families was created in Kazan. The gym for classes opened in School No. 82 in the city. Schoolchildren whose parents faced hardships as well as orphans (the school cares about an orphanage whose pupils attend the classes) and anybody can do sport. Realnoe Vremya’s corresponded visited the opening of the gym.

Gym for everybody

The project was launched as early as four years ago, but the gym didn’t operate to the full — coaches changed first, classes weren’t given in 2020 because of the pandemic. It became possible to completely equip the area only now. Army hand-to-hand and sambo combat classes are free — for those who cannot pay for them.

It is the author and director of I Grow Up with Sport public project Miroslav Smirnov’s idea to open gyms for children to do sport across Russia. The foundation has equipped over 70 gyms in 43 Russian cities, more than 21,000 children have been involved in sport. They not only go to classes but also become champions — over 25,000 pupils have received medals for the first, second and third places. This is the first free gym of the foundation in Kazan, another four gyms in Leninogorsk recently received equipment from the foundation too.

Kind Hearts foundation, Consolidation of Family programme that prevents social orphans from appearing in Tatarstan from SOS Children's Villages international charity as well as a representative of First Alive Collagen in Moscow Inside Club in Kazan Vladislav Kazakov became sponsors of the project in Kazan.

It became possible to completely equip the area only now

Training took place during the opening. Children of all ages trained in pairs according to a coach’s instructions. They were completely engaged in the class. They trained not only an attack technique but also blow reception. The coach corrected the athletes and showed techniques himself.

Business saves

As Miroslav Smirnov told Realnoe Vremya, support for the budget is not a common practice. For instance, grants are often denied, it is also hard to track them — Russia doesn’t have any means for this. Nevertheless, in some cases gyms opened with a region’s executive power: for instance, public money was allocated for repair, while the foundation carried other costs, purchased equipment. At the same time, the foundation doesn’t want to work with deputies anymore:

“There is a sad experience when functionaries didn’t really help but received a lot of PR in federal and party resources. It was written they opened a gym, though their investment is tiny,” said Smirnov. So according to him, mainly businesses sponsor a good deed. “Some lads are promising athletes who have achieved outstanding results. We have even world and Russian champions among children from orphanages. We need to find such children and personally invest, give companies, entrepreneurs a chance to sponsoring such children!”

The project’s sponsor Vladislav Kazakov responded to an urge to support the project late last summer, but it became possible to realise everything only now:

“A business has certain development stages. At times, you can take nothing from a business because there are a lot of costs. We overcame this stage, now it is a growth period,” the entrepreneur said.

The sponsor shared with Realnoe Vremya’s corresponding that he had a painful experience as a child, which pushed him into dealing with charity too. At some point, his parents couldn’t pay for his kickboxing classes, he didn’t find support from his coach, he had to quit:

“At that moment, I promised that when I grew up, I would certainly become rich so that my children could do sport, travel, develop. And I want to help other children too. I understand how money works. The more you give the more you get.”

The global goal of the project is to open as many gyms as possible but in a place with demand for this

“Here it is necessary to get children involved in sport”

Smirnov didn’t rule out that similar gyms would open in Tatarstan, including in Kazan. The global goal of the project is to open as many gyms as possible but in a place with demand for this. He says that an orphanage might have 10 people wishing to do sport, while 200 people want it in a village. So, on the one hand, the foundation benefits more in the village. On the other hand, the unwillingness of orphans is hidden in their problems: “Orphanages often have children with mental disorders. 90% of them have alive mums and dads who were stripped of their parental rights for obvious reasons — because of alcohol, drugs. Of course, the children have seen a lot. But it is necessary to engage them.”

A lot of children of this kind study in School No. 82. Now the school cares about 35 children from the Child’s House, 30 of them study in schools, five of them will study soon — they haven’t reached school age yet.

“There are a lot of children from troubled families. The district itself is troubled — people live in communal apartments. Many of our children are under the patronage of their grandparents. There are a lot of low-income, large families,” Director of school Elmira Skobelkina shared and stressed the importance of the opening of the free class. “Here it is necessary to get children involved in sport, they won’t pay for it, they don’t have money.”

Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent talked with parents of children who study in years one and six Maria and Elvira. They think that the sambo gym that opened is a good opportunity for children:

“It is very convenient that the gym is in the school. I mean the child doesn’t have to go anywhere, to cross the roads.”

“The children don’t wander in the street, they have things to do,” the mums are happy.

By Margarita Golovatenko