Exclusive interview with Aidar Makhmetov, PR director of Samruk – Kazyna: 100 million dollars a year, the budget for the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”, Kazakhstan
With a strong economic performance that has been driven largely by its natural resources sector, Kazakhstan is now aiming the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In an interview offered exclusively for caleaeuropeana.ro, at the VI Astana Economic Forum, Aidar Makhmetov, General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana” and PR director of “Samruk – Kazyna” (a company that owns more than 50% of the country’s GDP), stated that they are an ambitious club and that they want to invest as much as possible in professional sports.
The Club, created by Samruk – Kazyna and supported by the President of Kazakhstan and with a budget of over 100 million dollars a year is set out to be one of the most successful sports projects.
Read the full interview:
Calea Europeana: Mr. Makhmetov, in December last year, you were appointed as the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”. What are the main objectives you have in this area?
Aidar Makhmetov: I am not only the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”, I am also PR director of “Samruk – Kazyna”, the biggest national welfare fund from Kazakhstan, and in the past few years, we have sponsored several National Olympic Federations for sports such as athletism, wrestling, boxing etc. We are also sponsoring sports within other organizations, we support some of the most important sports image projects in Kazakhstan, and also teams of our own, such as Astana Team. So we decided to gather all these projects in one club and call it Presidential Professional Sports Club “Astana” because we had a good example from Real Madrid – the King’s club.
Calea Europeana: So it is not just a coincidence, the President of Kazakhstan is really involved and supporting the project.
Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, the President is supporting us. We brought up our plans to the President and he supported this and that is why the name of our club is the Presidential Club. We are supporting man clubs, in general, for example Cycling Club Astana, Basketball Club Astana, Football Club Astana, Ice-Hokey Team, Water Polo Astana, Polo Astana and also the National project regarding wrestling, so are supporting all sports, we manage both the image and the financial things within this club. We want to develop the club on a higher level and to make it maybe the second Real Madrid.
Calea Europeana: So your investments also go towards branding?
Aidar Makhmetov: We would like to establish a brand at an international level because people should know it is also about Astana, not only about the sport clubs. If they can see Astana and all our clubs, then they should know more about Astana, that it represents Kazakhstan.
Calea Europeana: You see it as an opportunity to promote not only the sport, but also the country. It is a great responsability.
Aidar Makhmetov: It is a huge responsability, but for us it is something normal.
Calea Europeana: It may be a motivation for the people involved in sport activities, for the players.
Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, of course, it is a big responsibility for people and they feel honored to come to Astana Club. The players should know more about it and have the spirit of our country, not only how to make best performance. For example, I heard it also in my career, because two years ago I managed the Cycling Team Astana in France so all the members of the team that were from Italia, let’s say, or Spain, were also having the spirit of our country. And this is very important for us.
Calea Europeana: What are the main performances that you have achieved with the Astana Club?
Aidar Makhmetov: The first performance was almost two weeks ago, we won World Series of Boxing (WSB) Team Finals, Arlans- our boxing team, became the world champion. WSB is one of the most important projects of the AIBA, the international boxing association, so this world league is going on for the last few years and in the first year, we got the second place, the last year we won the third place and now also made it here, in Astana, we organized the final, here. It was also a big responsibility because the people that came were from the highest level, the highest representative from the international box association. Our boxers brought this celebration to all the Kazakh people, this is our success, we are very happy. In two weeks from now, our representative to the Astana Dakar Team will participate in the Euro Cup on the tracks, so we are confident he will be successful there. For us is very important to be present at the World League, so our football team will participate to the future UEFA Cup. And we also have two more additional projects that are not formed as a club, because they are individuals. I am talking about two time champion in the Olympic weightlifting Ilya Ilyin and another one who won the silver medal in the last World Championship. We understand that they are very talented and we want to give them all the support they need. They are young in despite of their high achievements which they already made, so we are supporting them as much as we can.
Calea Europeana: You practically invest a lot in the future. With this in mind, because you want to have performance, doesn’t it require a large amount of money?
Aidar Makhmetov: The full budget of our clubs is more than 100 million dollars per year, so we want to make a four year deal with Samruk – Kazyna to secure these financial aspects because you know that in professional sports is very important to have a long term budget.From this point we try to secure our next four years, until the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. At the same time, also, we have to get money from our other activities like selling TV rights, selling of the fun productions and so on. We are just starting this work now in the Presidential Sport Club Astana. And we want to make it on a very high professional level and that is why all these areas should work perfectly inside of our club and it will.
Calea Europeana: I understood that you also played professional sports?
Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, I’ve been three-time world shidokan karate champion.
Calea Europeana: You’ve mentioned earlier about the Club’s boxing champions, we also have in Romania some important champions, if you maybe heard of Lucian Bute, Leonard Doroftei?
Aidar Makhmetov: Yes, I’ve heard about them, also Francis Vastag, and I respect the Romanian boxers, I know Zoltan Lunka who performed in Germany, but is originary from Romania. And also about Mihai Nistor (heavyweight), he is very good and talented and we are happy to have him in our team.
Calea Europeana: You already found a partner in sports in the Romanian people. I am very happy to hear all the plans that you have.
Aidar Makhmetov: That is very good, as you can see, we have enough infrastructure now to do it on the highest level. For example, tomorrow, we have the figure skaters who we are also supporting will offer a big performance here, they are the biggest figure skaters in the world now and will offer a great show, that is not so common.
Calea Europeana: Is there also a great impact on health population?
Aidar Makhmetov: Health is very important, but we do not want to be the Ministry of Sport, that is their duty. Our goal is to support professional sport. We are, by supporting the professional sport, also supporting the popularity of the sport, and if the people in Kazakhstan will see how successful our sportsmen are, they will also this desire to make something to do something, for their own good, for the country’s or for the money, at least. It is important to do something for your country, even President Kennedy said in the 60’s that the development of the nations is in two things: the flight in cosmos and the Olympic medals. I think we are achieving both of these, we are flying to cosmos and winning gold medals. We are an ambitious club and we want to go the highest level and we want to develop.
Makhmetov Aidar Alimzhanovich was born in 1979, native of the Astana city.
He is a graduate of “Bolashak” Presidential program, Doctor of Political Sciences, University of Cologne (Germany), 2007 – 2011, Master of Economics of the University of Kassel (Germany), 2000-2002. He graduated with honors from the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Eurasian National University after L. Gumilyov, 1996 – 2000. Since February 2012 he has been working as Director of the Department of Public Relations of “Samruk-Kazyna” JSC. In December 2012 he was appointed as the General Manager of the President’s Professional Sports Club “Astana”.