On June 8, the Estonian Olympic Committee (EOC) is to choose their next president from the choice of either former Olympic sailor, and former finance minister, Tõnu Tõniste, and entrepreneur Urmas Sõõrumaa. Wishing to continue his term as president, Sõõrumaa has set the objective of both raising the amount of people involved in sports, and developing more sports facilities.
Grading his term on a five-point scale, Sõõrumaa said: "I would give myself a 4+ (B+). Some things are still up in the air, but a lot of effort was put in and a lot was accomplished as well."
Sõõrumaa said that the budget for the EOC is close to €14 million. "Most of that is state support. Sponsors have given us around €750,000. If you're speaking of the objective of €.,3 million, one euro for each citizen of Estonia, then that's a domain that doesn't allow for a higher grade," said Sõõrumaa.
"This is one of the major negatives of the term, but looking at what has been done, and how much the budget for sports has actually increased - this is often ignored by people. If the money interests you that much, then I've personally put at least a million euros into sports over the last four years, as my company is the main sponsor of the EOC," Sõõrumaa added.
One of his main wishes during the next decade is that Estonian sports would get a boost of €100 million to perform its main task as promoter of public health.
ERR News wrote on May 4, that according to Sõõrumaa, half of that money should also go towards disease prevntion and healt related exercise via the would-be Health Fund. The other half is to go to the school system, to develop sportsmanship habits, so that the defense forces would not have to transform young men coming from school into men during their brief period of conscript service.
Sõõrumaa said this was important also because of those people who have acquired the habit of physical exercise during their time at school, as much as 80 percent will continue a sporty lifestyle also in their later years.
"I think a healthy citizen should be the priority of the state and that is the biggest hurdle for me during these next four years," said Sõõrumaa.
"Exercise habits consist of raising awareness and allowing access to facilities. Looking at societies' processes, even the €2.35 billion state loan. A lot of that money will go to the construction sector; we have also proposed our plans and those are far beyond €200 million and the 10 percent that the state is planning to borrow to develop infrastructure for sports. One of the developments is the Pirita velodrome, and there are others that should be completed as soon as possible," he added.
"The coaches' union is stronger than ever before. They're being led by Mati Iganõmm, and it is up to us to allow them to represent trainer across the country, so they could be heard in situations such as the emergency situation," said Sõõrumaa.
Sõõrumaa also added that the biggest challenge in developing sports in Estonia is to develop habits in schools.
"Of all school-aged young people, 52.15 percent are involved in sports clubs or schools. We have taken the first steps towards every student moving around for 60 minutes daily, and as of right now, that's also stated in the coalition plan. I sincerely hope that in the next four years, there are steps taken whereby we can say in 2035 that moving is part of our natural daily life," Sõõrumaa added.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste