#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In 2014, the Nornickel company began to develop social entrepreneurship as one of the areas of the World of New Opportunities charitable program in the territories of its presence. Over the years, social entrepreneurs have submitted 2509 applications, of which 639 projects received an interest-free repayable loan from the company. The amount of support for the business plans of the winners amounted to 664.6 million rubles. And last year, Nornickel launched a new Accelerator project within the framework of the Social Entrepreneurship course. Aleksey Nurkenov, a resident of Norilsk, became one of its winners.
In 2008, when the master of sports of international class, the Russian national karate team and one of the Norilsk children’s and youth sports schools coach Alexey Nurkenov officially registered his private sports club for children, it didn’t occurr to him that entrepreneurship could be social. Although, his business was of that kind: the athlete took up the solution of a problem that had existed for a long time in Norilsk.
“Children are admitted to municipal sports schools from the age of ten, but practice shows: if the parents do not pay due attention to the physical training of the child, then it is very difficult to achieve success in sports later. Therefore, I decided to organize a club where the little ones could study from the age of four”, says Alexey Nurkenov. “As it turned out, most of the parents in Norilsk are willing to pay even just for their child to have the opportunity to run and jump. And this is understandable: in the conditions of the Far North, children experience little physical activity”.
The Olympus club became popular in the city. Over time, in addition to karate, the children had the chance to practice judo. However, in 2016, the entrepreneur lost his training room.
“The city administration helped by providing us with 1,660 square meters – on the terms of an unlimited lease”, recalls Aleksey Nurkenov. “The room was in a deplorable state and required major repairs… I wrote a letter to the Nornickel polar division authorities asking for help. The company allocated building materials for almost one and a half million rubles. And we started repairs on our own”.
One by one, the halls and utility rooms were transformed in the Olympus center. Electricity, roofing, windows and sewerage have been renovated in the building. Aleksey Nurkenov jokes that he and everyone who helped him retrained from sportsmen to builders for several years. Indeed, in addition to the specialists involved, considerable efforts have been put into this transformation by the adults who are working out here.
“I also had to master the projecting skills”, he adds. “The costs are high, so we wrote applications for the competition of social projects, which the company holds annually within the framework of the World of New Opportunities program. Two of our projects received grant support from Nornickel and one – from the youth policy department of the city administration”.
Thanks to this, in addition to WKF karate-do, kyokushin karate, judo, taekwondo, Olympus began to engage in mixed martial arts – grant funds made it possible to open the first specialized hall in the city with an octagon and a ring. Over time, Thai boxing, boxing, fitness and others were added to these sports. A center of martial arts and fitness and English language training were also organized there.
“The main task of our multicenter is to attract as many children as possible to sports in Norilsk”, explains Nurkenov.
He has long dreamed of opening a unique sports hall in his center, equipped with high-quality artificial grass, where kids could play football, run and jump, getting an additional boost of energy in the polar night. As a father of two children, he understands how important this is.
They got the opportunity to do it – thanks to the Accelerator, which Nornickel launched in 2020.
“At first, everything was rather complicated”, Nurkenov admits. “We were required to be active, we had to take concrete steps and make progress reports. And I have my main job in the sports school, I am the coach of the national karate team of the country, I have to go to the training camp. Plus – ongoing repairs at Olympus, classes for kids… There was a huge lack of time. Despite all that, I was very motivated by the words of the curator, who came to the center to see what we were doing and saw how many people we have at Olympus. I decided to make every effort for the investor to support our project to open a children’s indoor soccer and track and field athletics hall. In total, Olympus now has seven gyms, including those for martial arts and boxing, which is rightfully considered one of the best in the entire region,” the social entrepreneur told.
Nornickel decided to support Alexey Nurkenov’s business project with an interest-free loan of 3.5 million rubles for two years.
“This money helped us to hold out for three most difficult months last spring, when restrictions were in force in the country due to the coronavirus”, the entrepreneur recalls. “The club was empty, and the salaries of coaches and other employees had to be paid. Plus a communal payment for such a large room… Thanks to the company – within two months it allocated money to us to pay utility bills”.
Nurkenov and his team started the business project together. Great help, he said, was provided by the parents of the pupils, and some coaches even refused to go on vacation in order to complete the work on time.
“It was a complicated project”, the entrepreneur does not hide, “we had to completely re-plan the premises, the area of which is about 120 square meters”.
The grand opening of the hall with artificial four-centimeter grass took place at Olympus on March 4, 2021. Today, the new hall hosts futsal and athletics classes for more than 60 young Norilsk residents.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Nickolay Shchipko