ASTANA – A new Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club (PPSC) has been opened to integrate and coordinate in a single organization all of Kazakhstan’s leading sports projects.
The new Astana Club will administer the sports of cycling, basketball, football, hockey, boxing, car racing, polo and water-polo under the single Astana brand name to promote them more effectively in global markets.
Umirzak Shukeyev, chairman of the Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund, said the new Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club “will eventually be ranked among such global brands as Real Madrid and Barcelona.”
“We decided to concentrate our efforts in international promotion under the Astana brand name. I am sure the President’s Professional Sports Club will achieve great results.” Shukeyev said. “We support about 20 sport teams, and the funding of their activities will be increased.”
Bakhtiyar Artayev, a 2004 Olympic boxing gold medalist, will head the new club as a president. Artayev is a champion athlete with public administration experience.
Astana’s new general manager will be Aidar Makhmetov, who was previously public relations director of the Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund. Makhmetov holds the title of Honored Master of Sports, is a world champion in karate and free fighting and is a PhD graduate of the Bolashak programme from the Cologne University. “He worked for a long time with the Astana cycling team and, therefore, he has an understanding of sport management,” Shukeyev said.
“The Presidential Sports Club will be under great attention,” Artayev said. “However, the individual attention paid to every professional athlete will make our teams even stronger.”
“Management of these projects will be among the functions of the Astana PPSC, which will ensure professional sports management. All funds allocated for the clubs will be distributed through the Astana PPSC. Image making policies, currently implemented by each club individually, will also be streamlined. Management of the PPSC will make decisions on key management positions of the clubs,” Makhmetov told The Astana Times. “The work of the Astana PPSC will focus on the best practices of corporate governance in sports. The best examples for this are well-known world clubs like Spanish Real and Barcelona, Bavaria in Germany.” (For full text of Makhmetov’s commentary see Opinion page).
Kazakhstan’s sport elite has welcomed the creation of the new single club.
“I am very pleased to participate in this project. This is a great idea, long tested in Europe. I am sure that this project will bring fruits not only in the future, but we will already witness the results at the next international competition,” said Olympic weightlifting champion Ilya Ilyin.
The head of the Astana basketball team Valery Tikhonenko said he was confident that the incorporation of so many sports under one roof would give a major boost to the development of all sports in Kazakhstan.
“I would like to thank the president for his widespread support of sport. This new project is the first of its kind in any of the former Soviet republics and it will greatly contribute to the development of Kazakhstan as a sport power,” Tikhonenko said.
The Astana sport brand has become widely known in the world over the past five years.
“We perceive the establishment of the Astana presidential professional club as a major breakthrough in the development of motor sport,” said Arthur Ardavichus, head of the Astana Dakar Motor Rally Team. “Astana is a top brand, and united into one team we will achieve more victories.”