Article at Diamonds Do Good website
Stanislav Butorin is only 12, but soccer has already changed his life. Although he has only been playing for three years, he can see a future in this athletic pursuit. “I usually play football outdoors with my friends after school every day, even in winter,” he says, using the British English term for the sport.
This point goes far in demonstrating his commitment—his home is in one of Russia’s coldest regions. Temperatures regularly fall below freezing.
“Me and my friends love this sport,” he adds.
In the town of Mirny, Siberia, over 250 children participate in soccer programs. While younger kids have the opportunity to begin training as early as age 6, older youths like Stanislav, take part in daily practices and scrap matches to hone their skills.
But the city’s sports offerings do not stop at soccer. Over 2,000 youngsters take part in over a dozen sports offerings through the state-of-the-art ALROSA Cultural and Sports Complex in Mirny. It was built by diamond industry leader, ALROSA, a company whose dedication to supporting communities goes far beyond the status quo.
The athletic training offered is not just kid stuff—prizewinners in national competitions and championships who received training thanks to ALROSA suggest there will be future Olympic champions among the young athletes.
It is only the second year young archer Evgeniya Gorokhova has trained at the sports archery club of Mirny. She’s already won a few gold medals at prestigious regional competitions. “After the first victories I got passion, I started studying more, and was able to take the third place in the Republic competitions,” said the young athlete. “Now I’m preparing for the “Children of Asia” games, I’m already the member of Yakut national team” she adds proudly.
While the interest in the sports such as soccer has grown, the same can be said of the town of Mirny, which owes its existence to the diamond industry. Today, the town is the center of Russian diamond production, and home to 35,000 people. It came into existence only after the discovery of a Kimberlite pipe in 1955, which brought thousands to the otherwise barren region. Since the search for diamond deposits was top secret, geologists sent a coded letter to Moscow, writing “light the peace pipe, the tobacco is excellent.” Thus, the town was given the name of ‘Mir’—the Russian word for ‘peace’.
ALROSA Diamonds Support Mirny Community
ALROSA’s dedication to supporting the community goes beyond providing the necessary infrastructure for workers and their families, like schools and leisure facilities. Last year, the company put 5% of its revenue towards social programs, and puts social policy at the core of its mission.
Seven-year-old Masha Morozova has been attending rhythmic gymnastics classes for three years. She hopes to one day compete in the Olympic games. Gymnastics training is incredibly popular among young women like Masha in Mirny, and she takes her training seriously. To reach her goal, she trains several times a week and performs in a host of competitions. In addition to excelling in her sport of choice, the young athlete has made many friends and learned the value of teamwork.
“I like Olya, Dasha, Sonia, Xenia,” she says, proudly giving credit to her pals. “I like to spend time with them. We always are engaged together; first [we] run together, then we do our exercises.”
Many of the program’s coaches have decades of experience. They teach over 100 young athletes the skills needed to succeed, including willpower, dedication and commitment and other skills that will help them long into their adult lives.
Residents of Mirny also have the opportunity to train in the district’s impressive ski base. The new building not only hosts a variety of competitions, but includes a new gym and the opportunity to rent ski equipment.
Richat Yuzmuhametov, head of the Mirny district, says the new ski lodge will benefit not only athletes, but also residents of the region who wish to enjoy a ski outing. “The base has all the conditions for practicing cross-country skiing. I hope that this sports complex will really be in demand among residents of the Mirny,” he said.
Once frigid tundra and now a tight-knit community, towns like Mirny are truly diamonds in the rough.