Rus­sia’s an­cient Kazan thrives as sports cap­i­tal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -


In­ter­spersed among minarets and candy-col­ored church domes, world-class sports venues dot the land­scape in Kazan, a Rus­sian cul­tural hub that has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as an in­ter­na­tional sports cap­i­tal. The city of 1.2 mil­lion, lo­cated some 700 kilo­me­ters east of Moscow on the banks of the Volga River, is host­ing the draw for the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup to­day and is some­thing of a Rus­sian sport­ing Makkah. Kazan, the ad­min­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal of Rus­sia’s oil-rich, ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim Tatarstan re­gion, has hosted in­ter­na­tional and Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tions in weightlift­ing, hockey, fig­ure skat­ing, box­ing, swim­ming and fenc­ing, among a long list of dis­ci­plines. Most mem­o­rably, the city hosted the 2013 Sum­mer Univer­si­ade and the FINA World Cham­pi­onships last year.

City of­fi­cials say that host­ing the Univer­si­ade - world stu­dent games - was a major mile­stone that con­sid­er­ably boosted the devel­op­ment of sports in­fra­struc­ture. “More than 30 new sports venues were built from scratch, while 19 oth­ers were com­pletely ren­o­vated,” Kazan deputy mayor Damir Fat­takhov said. “The host­ing of the stu­dent games be­came a pow­er­ful spur to de­vel­op­ing the city’s sports in­fra­struc­ture.” Fat­takhov added that the city author­i­ties also en­cour­aged stu­dent sport by trans­fer­ring the own­er­ship of 18 sports venues to a lo­cal sports academy, a univer­sity and other ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. “That was a wise de­ci­sion. Now Kazan stu­dents have ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties to take part in sports at up-to­date venues,” he added.

Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin called Kazan the “sports cap­i­tal of Rus­sia” dur­ing a visit to the city in 2013 and re­peated this dur­ing a visit to Tatarstan in April. “Peo­ple here know what sport is, they love it and are ca­pa­ble of or­ga­niz­ing the major sports events,” he said at the meet­ing of his sports coun­cil. Kazan was founded as a fortress in 1005 and was part of the Golden Horde Mon­gol em­pire be­fore in the 15th cen­tury be­com­ing the cap­i­tal of a pow­er­ful Tatar prin­ci­pal­ity called the Kazan khanate. The city joined the Rus­sian Em­pire in 1552 af­ter be­ing seized by Ivan the Ter­ri­ble, who or­dered thou­sands of Rus­sians to re­set­tle there. — AFP

MOSCOW: Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin places his hand on an of­fi­cial match ball for the 2017 FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, named ‘Krasava’, dur­ing a meet­ing with FIFA pres­i­dent at the Krem­lin yes­ter­day on the eve of the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup draw to be held in Kazan. —AFP

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