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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
We are meeting on the eve of St Tatiana’s Day, a student holiday. First of all, I want to congratulate you on this holiday and wish you success in your studies and in sports, because student sports is the subject of today’s meeting.
You have probably heard – I am sure you have since you have come to this meeting because I spoke about it in the Address to the Federal Assembly – that we are ready to support the idea of establishing an association of student sports clubs. I believe this is a very important project for a number of reasons.
The main reason why all thinking people take up sports is to take care of our health, which is essential for each person and for society as a whole. This is especially important for young people, because you have your whole lives ahead of you: you will start a family, have children and succeed in your careers. None of that is possible without strong health. Our health is the basis of everything. That is why it is so important for us to make sure that people join in physical activities and sports from a very young age, starting at school or university if they haven’t taken it up at school.
”I would very much like to see a revival of the student sports movement. I would like to see it completely depoliticised. It should become one of the structures of our civil society, so that political views do not stand in the way of people getting together to communicate and address some shared, universal problems such as promoting physical fitness, sports and healthy living.“
There is a well-known saying, a sound mind in a sound body, which has come down to us from antiquity. It is absolutely correct. It is very hard for someone with health problems to seek success in life, although people with health problems should have the opportunity to recover and achieve good results in sports. Our Paralympians are the best example of that.
Speaking of student sport, I want to point out that it developed very vigorously in Russia in the early 20th century. I think student sport was born somewhere around 1911, when the first student clubs were established. In 1916, more than a third of universities in the Russian Empire had student clubs. In the Soviet times, perhaps you have heard about it, there was a Burevestnik sports society, which had hundreds of thousands of members. Although I was a member of a different society, Trud, I performed for Burevestnik when I was a student at the Leningrad University. So I was part of student sports at one time.
I would very much like to see a revival of the student sports movement, and, as I said in the Address to the Federal Assembly, I would like to see it completely depoliticised. It should become one of the structures of our civil society, so that political views do not stand in the way of people getting together to communicate and address some shared, universal problems such as promoting physical fitness, sports and healthy living. This is the first point.
Second, the people who love sports become united; it's always a kind of family. In this regard, another aspect is very important: the creation and development of student sports clubs will lead to a more active student life. This will include fan clubs, and I very much hope that these fan clubs will be guided by the best standards based on the generally accepted norms of behaviour and culture. But in any case, this will enrich student life.
I would love to support all of you, those who want to work on this project, and I suggest that today we talk on this subject, bearing in mind that a new law on education will come into force on September 1, 2013. The law expressly states that it is the responsibility of universities’ leadership to promote the development of physical fitness and sports at universities.
Let's talk about these issues in a free format. I very much hope that you will express your views on how this effort could be organised, and make proposals on the kind of support you would need to help you in the organisation of these activities.