Year: 2019

Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation opened the Assyl Miras Autism Centre in Petropavlovsk

This is the eighth in the round centre for children with autism spectrum disorders in Kazakhstan that was opened by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation with the support of the North Kazakhstan Oblast Akimat (city administration). Diagnosis and corrective assistance services are rendered here free of charge.

In 2015 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation launched in Kazakhstan the “Autism. One world for all” programme within which Assyl Miras autism centres have been opening in regions. For four years, the Foundation has opened centre in the cities of: Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Kzylorda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Aktobe, Uralsk, Shymkent. The eighth centre was opened in Petropavlovsk.   Before that, no one tackled problems of children with autism spectrum disorders seriously in Kazakhstan. The diagnosis was made at the age of not earlier than three-five years in the offices of psychological, medical and pedagogical consultation (PMPC). Forget the corrective work: there were no specialized rehabilitation centres and methods of work with children with ASD. There are about four thousand such children in Kazakhstan, according to the official statistics. But the actual figures might be higher as early diagnostics just started. In the opinion of Eric Fombonne, professor at the Oregon Health and Science University (USA), who studied issues of autism prevalence in Kazakhstan, we have 59,000 children with ASD. Autism spectrum disorders may differ: from light to serious, like the Asperger syndrome. But in each case it is possible to help a child with a special psychic condition to blend in the social environment and to teach him or her life skills. The earlier an accurate diagnosis is made, the more chances are for the corrective treatment. This is exactly what Assyl Miras autism centres do.
“Our centres are implementing such programmes as: early support, study skills, life skills, intensive course, social and verbal skills,” tells the Programme Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, Zhanyl Mukashova. “All Assyl Miras centres give classes using American technologies developed by the California University and the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, USA. These technologies proved their efficiency. Every child who took or is taking classes at our centres has a progress in his or her development”.
The founder, Bulat Utemuratov, allocated 12.5 million dollars for the “Autism. One world for all” project. These funds were used to open autism centres in regions, to equip the centres with essential devices, to employ the staff of psychologists, logopaedists, special education teachers. Here parents of children with ASD are rendered services free of charge. Every child with suspected autism first goes through the diagnostics at the centre and then is admitted to the behavior correction programme. Because an autism spectrum disorder is not a disease curable by medications. A child can be helped only through special techniques developing various skills.
“Unlike with government entities, business approach is much more effective and constructive,” believes Kazakhstan Children’s Ombudsman Aruzhan Sain. “Businessmen are looking for professionals, because it’s important for them to spend money exactly for what it is allocated for, and they do not allow for the inefficient use of funds. As an example – Assyl Miras centres, where Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation helps children with autism. They have been opening in more and more cities, and the Foundation is trying to build up systemic assistance to children, especially in those areas where the state still cannot or does not want to do this”.
Since 2015, over 8 thousand children have been registered for diagnostics at autism centres, 4.5 thousand children have been admitted to corrective programmes, 2.9 thousand have completed these programmes. The centres help children to develop essential skills and to adapt in the modern society. Parents are given social classes, are told why autism is not a disease and how to help children to build on their achievements. If previously families with ASD children were left to themselves, or had to pay a whole lot of money to go abroad for rehabilitation, now they can get assistance in Assyl Miras centres. The Petropavlovsk autism centre is located on the ground floor of a newly erected building in the area of 500 square metres. Before the end of the year, the centre will get an oxygen altitude chamber installed at the expense of the Foundation. It is required for rehabilitation of children with autism spectrum disorders.  
“All services at the centre are free of charge, and they will be provided at a high quality level. Our founder says: no matter where a centre is located: in Nur-Sultan or in Petropavlovsk, the quality of services must be equally high,” remarked the Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, Marat Aitmagambetov.
The Assyl Miras project uses only efficient, scientifically proved methods of assistance rendered to children. For example, the JASPER system for development of speaking skills designed by the Casari Laboratory, California University in Los-Angeles, helped 80% of non-speaking children to gain verbal skills.

Tennis legends Nadal and Jokovic held a charity match in Nur-Sultan

The strongest players of modern times arrived at the invitation of Bulat Utemuratov, the President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation. More than 11 thousand spectators came to see the battle of the titans.

A historical event took place on 24 October 2019 in the capital of Kazakhstan: world tennis legends Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Serb Novak Djokovic met in the court of “Barys Arena” palace. The eternal rivals held a charity match. It was unique as the strongest tennis players of the planet have never before played against each other in the post-Soviet space. From 2016 the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation has been negotiating with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic about holding the charity match in Nur-Sultan. The KTF President, business leader Bulat Utemuratov had a dream of bringing the first and the second rackets of the world to Nur-Sultan to popularise this sport.
“When the invitation came – I immediately agreed, as it’s for long time now that I have been keeping my eye on Kazakhstani tennis and am impressed with how dynamically it’s been developing”, – told Rafael Nadal at the press conference before the start of the game. “It’s a big honour for me to participate in this game as it’s about charity.”
This match of the leading players of modern times in Nur-Sultan is not a commercial project.
“All funds received from the sales of tickets will be used for the development of children’s tennis in the country”, – said Bulat Utemuratov, the President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, at the same press conference. “Therefore I am very grateful to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They did everything possible for this battle to take place in Nur-Sultan. We planned to hold it yet two years ago, but due to the busy schedule of the guys we did not manage to do this then.”
Rafael Nadal noted the merits of KTF President Bulat Utemuratov, with whom tennis in Kazakhstan became available and widely spread.
“Bulat Utemuratov helps developing tennis. He is inspired with this sport and has done a lot. So many tennis courts have been built by him for the recent 12 years!” – emphasised Nadal. “Engagement of children in tennis has increased five times since he stood at the helm of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation. He is a powerful person in ITF.”
A month and a half before the game Bulat Utemuratov was re-elected for the second term as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Federation, and then he was nominated to the position of the ITF Vice President. Since 2007 he has invested in the development of tennis in Kazakhstan over 60 million dollars. Mainly in the infrastructure development (if about 10 years ago there were 60 courts in Kazakhstan, now there are almost 200), arrangement of tournaments of Futures, Challenger, ITF and ATF series and participation in international Grand Slam competitions. The apogee was famous tennis players coming to Kazakhstan. The visit had several purposes. Charity was not the last but not the main task. The head of the Tennis Federation wanted to show to children engaged in this sport that there was nothing impossible. The game of legendary players should inspire them to new victories. It was with good reason that, before the match, the eminent athletes held a master class for the best little tennis players in the country. One more purpose of the “battle of titans” in Nur-Sultan – popularisation of tennis. Bulat Utemuratov invited the best tennis players of the planet to Kazakhstan so that after their game as many as possible young players would dream to take a racket in their arms and win over the world courts. For the tennis players themselves, this was the 55th meet which became the high-profile sporting event of the year for Kazakhstanis. Fans from Russia, Uzbekistan and China also came to the charity match. The First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, also attended the exhibition match. And the tennis players performed not half-steam as in a friendly match, but literally snatched the victory from each other. While Rafael Nadal won in the first set with a score of 6:3, then the second set with the same score ended in favour of Novak Djokovic. Due to the equal score, a tie-break was announced. The match was won by Rafael Nadal with a minimum gap of 11:9. Now the Spaniard’s savings box has 27 victories over the Serb with 28 losses.

Kazakhstani tennis players won over the Netherlands team at the Davis Cup in Madrid

It is for the sixth time that the national tennis team of Kazakhstan made it to the top division of the Davis Cup. Eighteen strongest teams of the planet met in the final round.

The final round of the Davis Cup took place from 18 to 24 November in Madrid. These are the largest international team competitions in men’s tennis. Matches are held under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation, where the head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov, was elected as Vice President in October 2019. This year the Davis Cup changed the format of competitions. Now it is called the World Cup of Tennis Finals. Eighteen national teams were qualified for the World Group, including Kazakhstan, on a par with such tennis powers as the USA, Canada, Spain, Serbia, France and Russia. Kazakhstani tennis players have been taking part in the Davis Cup landmark competitions since 1995, but managed to join the World Group from 2011 only. Experts link this with the development of tennis in the country, the boom of which started when philanthropist and business leader Bulat Utemuratov joined the Tennis Federation. The KTF invited promising legionnaires who more than justified the investment. This is the entire men’s national team: ex-first racket of Kazakhstan Mikhail Kukushkin, the current first racket of the country Alexander Bublik, the strongest players Dmitry Popko, Andrey Golubev and Alexander Nedovesov. They were invited so that the successful tennis players could, while Kazakhstan is raising young cadres, adequately represent our country on world courts. The KTF President has one main goal – to make Kazakhstan a tennis power. Our country is reaching this goal with a solid step. A bright proof of this is the fact that Kazakhstani tennis players placed themselves among the world tennis elite for the sixth time. After all, 10 years ago this seemed hard to achieve. The final tournament of the Davis Cup-2019 included four semifinalists of the previous season (Croatia, the USA, Spain and France) and 12 teams selected according to the results of qualification tournaments. Two more teams received a wild-card from the organisers (Argentina and the United Kingdom). Kazakhstan was among those who successfully qualified, defeating Portugal in Nur-Sultan with a score of 3:1. The Kazakhstani team had to hold the tournament in Group E with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Each match consisted of two singles and two doubles meetings in the courts of La Caja Magica stadium in Madrid.
“Great Britain is a favourite. The Netherlands – that hard nut to crack, an effort is need to win it over. No one is here just to sell the match easily. Everyone is to be fought with, a good result must be shown. Both teams have amazing players paired. We are in for tough games both in doubles and in singles. We are ready. I am happy and proud that we represent our country here,” said Dias Doskarayev, captain of the Kazakhstan team, at the press conference before the start of the game.
The Tennis Federation brought their fan-group from Kazakhstan to Madrid, and invited the local diaspora and Kazakhstani students studying in the Spanish capital. The fans have been supporting our tennis players throughout all games. Our team was considered a favourite in the battle between Kazakhstan and the Netherlands. The guys did manage to confirm this status. First, Mikhail Kukushkin in a match with Dutchman Botik Van de Zanshulp took the victory in two sets with a score of 6:2. For the second match, Alexander Bublik lost to Robin Haase, but then took revenge in the doubles match together with Mikhail Kukushkin. The Kazakhstanis defeated their rivals Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer with scores of 6:4, 7:6 (7:2). Thus, our team won over the Netherlands in Group E.
“Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer were defeated because Kukushkin and Bublik played an amazing match. This is especially true about Mikhail. He was great in serving and returning. It was that physically and psychologically Kukushkin was ready for all 100%. And Alexander proved that he rightfully held a high place in the world ranking. His first serves are incomparable,” commented on the victory of the Kazakhstanis the Dutch national team captain, Paul Haarhuis.
The next rival in the group – the UK team, which was fortified before the tournament with a legendary player – ex-world No 1 Andy Murray. With his return to the court after an injury, the British team broke through to the favourites of the group. Mikhail Kukushkin played the first singles match against Kyle Edmund. The battle ended in favour of the Brit. The second singles turned out to be in favour of Kazakhstan: Alexander Bublik took over Daniel Evans in two sets. However, in the group match the Kazakhstani tennis players lost to the strongest pair of the planet – Jaimie Murray and Neal Skupski. Thus, our team won the second place in Group E of the Davis Cup 2019.
“Kazakhstan is a young republic where tennis just started developing. The Davis Cup participants are countries with multi-century histories. For instance, the UK has been participating in the tournament since 1900. Kazakhstan has been in the top division of the Davis Cup among the strongest national teams for many years now. This should be appreciated,” Dias Doskarayev commented on the second place.
It was not a defeat, but it was a tough battle. Our tennis players did their best, but the rivals were stronger. The national team of Kazakhstan once again created the history of the Kazakhstani tennis. Now it will have to repeat its success in the match with the Dutch team next year to qualify for the final round of the Davis Cup 2020. The match will be held on 6-7 March in Nur-Sultan.

Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation built houses for 100 families in Arys

Bulat Utemuratov’s Charity Foundation allocated 850 million tenge to build houses in Arys for people who lost their homes after the series of ammunition explosions in July 2019, and for the needy multi-child families, orphans, disabled, lonely elderly people.

Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation was among the first to respond to the tragedy in Arys when all residents of the town had to be evacuated after explosions at the military base. Ammunition rounds damaged over 7 thousand buildings (90%), about 500 houses were recognised as a total loss, thousands of people were left without a home. After this emergency, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, jointly with the Red Crescent, issued aid cards to the victims. Two thousand people received in total 60 million tenge. This money helped people to survive through the hardest days of the crisis and to buy essential commodities. The programme of rendering aid to Kazakhstanis affected by emergencies was first launched by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation after floods in various regions of Kazakhstan. The next step was construction in Arys of 50 duplex houses for two owners for those who lost their houses. The first lines of the list of housing recipients were 34 families who previously lived in barracks near the military base. This barrack was affected the most because of its location close to the explosion source. The building was completely destroyed; therefore, the former inhabitants of the barrack were put in the list of recipients the first.
“Other 66 families are local residents of socially vulnerable categories: multi-child and needy families, single mothers, orphans, disabled”, – told Programme Manager of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation Dana Dzhaksylykova.
100 families received 50 duplex houses in fine finish. Each of them has two spacious light rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a refrigerator and a gas stove. Each house has 10 ares of land. Roads and sidewalks in the microdistrict were asphalted, playgrounds were installed, pine tree alleys were planted. It is not for the first time that Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation builds houses for the needy families. The “Balameken” project, that is translated from Kazakh as the abode of children, was first launched in spring 2019 to provide social support for Kazakhstanis who were in need of housing. Under this project, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation built houses for multi-child families in the Kzylorda Oblast. 50 duplex houses were designed for 100 families. The founder allocated 450 million tenge for this construction.
“Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation was set up to improve the life of Kazakhstanis and it pursues this mission from the moment of its establishment. The founder, Bulat Utemuratov, decided to take an active part in solving housing problems of Kazakhstanis. We could not stay on the sidelines and thought we had to help people”, – noted then Almaz Sharman, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation.
The charity foundation was set up in 2014 at the initiative of philanthropist and businessman Bulat Utemuratov. The founder has been providing a regular financial support of projects in healthcare, education and culture. The Foundation also helps Kazakhstanis affected by natural disasters and man-caused emergencies. Over 900 million tenge were allocated for the organization of assistance to the Arys people only.

Team Kazakhstan: how they bring up tennis champions in Kazakhstan

Team Kazakhstan is the first tennis academy for promising children in Kazakhstan. It is not just professional sports training, but also advanced learning of English and school subjects. The best students can enter prestigious foreign universities. This is the story of how the once elite sport became widespread and how ordinary Kazakhstani children are trained to be court champions.

The idea to develop court tennis in Kazakhstan belongs to businessman Bulat Utemuratov. In 2007 he took the charge of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, and a year later set up the Team Kazakhstan Tennis Academy in Nur-Sultan. This is a unique school where promising teenagers are selected to be trained for the professional sports. For the success in court tennis depends not only on physical condition but also on the time spent on the court. The more time spent, the higher are chances to bring up champions. Therefore, in 2008 the academy started selecting 12-17-year old teenagers, and later – younger children too.

What the tennis academy is like

Team Kazakhstan is a symbiosis of a sports school and a gymnasium for talented children. It is not only the court and the gym, it is a big campus where children live in boarding school settings. But the academy has nothing to do with that boarding school as many imagine it.    
Boys’ bedroom
It’s a modern building where students train with the leading world professionals. They are provided with comfortable accommodation, five meals daily, medical services, social adaptation.
“We try to envisage everything: psychology, catering, physical training, progress in studies”, – tells Dias Doskarayev, Vice President of the Tennis Federation. “We want children to have achievements not only in tennis, they also must be progressing in their studies. If a child is successful at school, he/she is also successful in sports. We are frosty about children dropping out of studies and missing their classes. There is a stereotype: if someone is an athlete, that means the person was not good enough for anything else, however, our students are successful people – not only in the sports, but in the life too.”
Days in the academy are mapped out to the hour:
  • wake-up, morning procedures;
  • breakfast;
  • classes or a training session;
  • lunch;
  • sleep hour;
  • snacks;
  • classes or a training session;
  • dinner;
  • free time;
  • supper;
  • free time;
  • bed time.
The schedule helps keeping the discipline, which, in turn, instils in children self-sufficiency and responsibility – important qualities of a successful person.

Why the academy students study English in depth

The students used to study in the gymnasium classes of gymnasium school No 17 named after Akan Kurmanov with a linguistic bias. This year teachers are invited to the academy to teach English and Russian, and literature. Why is the emphasis put on linguistics? Because a child, engaged in tennis, enters the environment where everyone speaks English: at training camps abroad, at international competitions.
Curriculum Office
Tennis is not a team sport. A tennis player is on his own on the court. He must be able to reply to the judge or to challenge a decision in English. By the way, as tennis is an individual sport, a child becomes independent earlier. Even when the game is being played on the court, the rules prohibit any tips to be given by the trainer, thus the player learns to take decisions independently. Training at school is just the first stage. The best tennis players are invited by prestigious foreign universities to play for the university and their education expenses are covered. The cost of education at an American university, for example, is USD 20,000 a year.   Students are trained by both local trainers who took courses abroad, and by invited professionals.  
“In 2009 we invited famous Dutch professional Eric van Harpen as the chief trainer. He is one of the most renowned tennis professionals in the world”, – says Team Kazakhstan Academy Director Zhanbolat Zhakupov. “The same year we invited leading world professional Mecislav Boguslavsky from Poland to be the chief trainer for general and special physical training of tennis players.”
Team Kazakhstan invited to cooperate famous tennis academies of international renown. Thanks to this, the students train and have meets in Spain, the US, China and Turkey. Currently the academy has been re-organised into Team Kazakhstan combined teams and has 32 sportsmen of the first-string and reserve rosters.

What results were achieved by Team Kazakhstan for 11 years

The Team Kazakhstan students became professional tennis players, they take part in such prestigious competitions as the Davis Cup, international ITF series tournaments, world and Asian championships. They include: bronze medalist of the Youth Asian Games Dmitry Popko; 21st racket of the world under 18 years Dostanbek Tashbulatov; silver medalist of the Asian Games Denis Yevseyev; repeated winner of the ITF series tournament Grigoriy Lomakin; the third racket of the world under 18 years Anna Danilina; Kazakhstan’s first racket under 18 years Zhibek Kulambayeva.
“The male team has entered the top-8 in the Davis Cup – that is very prestigious, high-status and pleasing”, – emphasises Dias Doskarayev. “But we are twice happier when our children perform. A big number of children under 12 years got award-winning places in European tournaments. These are Aiya Nurbay, Karina Dzhumazhanova, Zhanel Ospanova, Maxim Batyutenko, Yerasyl Yerdilda, Sandugash Kenzhibayeva, who excel in tournaments in Germany, France, Indonesia.  They won the third place in the Asian Championship in the team rating. We have never had such success before.”
For the first time in the history of Kazakhstani tennis, Team Kazakhstan students Sandugash Kenzhibayeva and Yerasyl Yerdilda will go to the most prestigious tournament among children in France. Les Petits As – an unofficial world championship for children under 14 years – in 2020 will take place in Tarbes. They were not simply invited – they passed through the qualification selection during competitions in Indonesia.

How elite sport became widespread in Kazakhstan

In 2007, before Bulat Utemuratov took the charge of the Tennis Federation, this sport was perceived as an elite one. A little bit more than 500 people were engaged in it throughout the country. These were amateurs and youngsters who could afford renting an expensive court and lessons with a trainer. For the recent 12 years, tennis has turned from the posh sport into the wide-spread one. This was made possible thanks to the infrastructure set up throughout entire Kazakhstan. In 2007 the Tennis Federation developed a five-year programme which was agreed by the President of the country. Then this strategy was renewed every next five years.
“One of the components of tennis development is the infrastructure”, – says Dias Doskarayev. “In the first instance, it was necessary to make it accessible for masses so that children would have opportunities to engage in this sport all over Kazakhstan, to train both at the amateur and professional levels. This is also needed for making the nation healthier. Therefore, all the groundwork was done for children so that they could practice tennis systematically, so that they would look at tennis as at a sport of the highest achievements”.
The Tennis Federation built new courts all over Kazakhstan. If in 2007 there were 60 courts, now there are over 270. In Almaty, in the Bostandyk District, where courts were lacking, the Tennis Federation built the “Ace” centre. This is 10 outdoor and indoor courts, a gym, a cafeteria, teaching resource rooms for tennis players.
“There are about 320,000 people living in the Bostandyk District. Therefore, it was important for us to cover this area”, – explains the Vice President of the Tennis Federation. “Currently the centre is attended by 507 children. Under the same project, the Akimat of Almaty has already selected a site in the Alatau District near the Almaty Arena for a similar tennis centre.”
In Nur-Sultan, in Momyshuly Street, a tennis centre of 14 courts is being built under a Canadian project. According to the authors’ design, it will have 8 courts inside, 6 courts outside and two gyms. In Shymkent, the National Tennis centre increased the number of indoor courts up to 18. A hotel was built next to it for teams coming from all over Kazakhstan. A classroom was also provided there so that children would not lag behind their studies during meets and training. In Aktobe and Petropavlovsk, a tennis centre was built under the public-private partnership programme.
“Aktobe is the city where one tennis centre will be followed by the second one”, – comments Dias Doskarayev. “This proves that there is high interest and demand in this sport. When we open a tennis centre, we try to have it built in compliance with the latest technologies, requirements and world standards, so that it could be used not only for training children, but for holding international tournaments too.”
In Karaganda and Aktau, construction of the second in count tennis centres is also starting.
“We see that tennis becomes so popular that we have no time to build”, – confesses our interlocutor. “Every year we launch two-three tennis centres, but the number of courts grows slower than the number of children. This is an uneasy burden of the Tennis Federation President, Bulat Utemuratov, who has to negotiate with regions, akimats (local administrations), get many approvals, search for funds, and incur substantial expenses. For example, the “Ace” Tennis Centre in Almaty cost USD 5.7 million. This is a lot of money, but children want to play tennis, and we satisfy this need.”
The Federation plans to build additional training centres in Lisakovsk, Kostanay, Taraz, Shymkent, in the Turkestan Oblast. Large-scale construction of new courts resulted in the reduction in tennis court rentals throughout Kazakhstan. If at the dawn of the “noughties” an hour of the game cost 50 dollars, currently the price has fallen down 10 times and is on average two-three thousand tenge. Now tennis can be played not only by businessmen and bankers but by all comers. In total, over seven thousand people are engaged in tennis in Kazakhstan.

ITF appoints Treasurer, VPs and Athlete Reps for 2019-23

The ITF Board have unanimously re-appointed Mary Pierce and Mark Woodforde as the two ITF Board Athlete representatives to serve during the 2019-23 term. President David Haggerty said: “Mary and Mark have made significant contributions to the ITF Board over the last four years and we are delighted to have them continue another four years to bring the athlete’s voice into our board meetings and help us make informed decisions for the good of tennis and the ITF member nations.” The ITF Board also unanimously appointed four members in senior leadership roles as officers of the ITF. Switzerland’s René Stammbach is appointed Treasurer and continues in his role as Chairman of the Finance Committee, with three additional officers in the role of Vice Presidents appointed: Katrina Adams, the Immediate Past President of the United States Tennis Association; Bernard Giudicelli, President of the Fédération Française de Tennis; and Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation. ‘All four senior leaders bring expertise to the ITF Board,’ David Haggerty added. ‘René Stammbach and Katrina Adams bring experience from their previous four years as Vice Presidents, with Grand Slam Chairman Bernard Giudicelli and successful business leader Bulat Utemuratov adding great knowledge from inside and outside the world of tennis. ‘These four individuals received the most votes from the AGM for the Board and will assist me as President in implementing our ITF2024 strategy and continuing the transformation of tennis.’ Read more at

Burabike Fest 2019 cracked records of last years

For seven years this charity bike ride has transformed into the mass sports and music festival with the tent camping, performance of stars, master classes, tennis tournaments, bike race and two-day auction.

It is for the seventh running year that Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation and the Rixos Borovoe Hotel has been holding the charity Burabike Fest in Borovoe. This good tradition was launched in 2013 – then only about one hundred people took part in the bike race. The sum of funds raised through the auction was 11.5 million tenge. This money was spent to buy equipment for the Oblast Perinatal Centre in Kokshetau. For these seven years the bike ride became a recognizable and anticipated end summer event. Now the number of participants is counted in thousands, and the sum of funds raised – in hundreds of millions tenge. The bike race itself transformed into the sports and music festival where Kazakhstanis come in entire families to not only ride bikes, but also to relax outside. This year the festival’s format was changed due to the large number of participants. First, it became a two-day festival. Secondly, a tent camp was set up in the territory of the Rixos Borovoe Hotel. This turned it more like big international festivals which are traditionally held open-air in the end of summer.
“This year we set up a tent camp, organized concerts, programmes for children”, – tells the festival initiator, Bulat Utemuratov. “This is both sports and family leisure time accompanied by music. People get a lot of pleasure from the bike ride. And what’s most important – the money raised are spent for charity purposes. We annually renew the list of medical institutions which need our support”.
The charity purpose of the festival remained unchanged – collection of money to purchase vitally important equipment for oblast, district and rural medical institutions. For the years the festival has been run, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation managed to raise over 1 billion tenge. The festival guests sponsored purchase of equipment for 27 hospitals, rehabilitation and perinatal centres, orphanages, associations of children with special needs. This year they planned to buy equipment for five medical institutions:
  1. Almaty Oblast Hospital;
  2. Kzylorda Oblast Perinatal Centre;
  3. Zhangaly District Hospital, East Kazakhstan Oblast;
  4. Yessil District Hospital, Akmola Oblast;
  5. Kyzylzhar District Hospital, Bishkul Village, North Kazakhstan Oblast.
But there turned to be more money raised during the two-day auction. Therefore, the charity festival organizers expanded the list of beneficiaries, having included the District Hospital in Shelek Village, the Petropavlovsk City Rehabilitation Centre and the Traumatology and Orthopedics Research Institute in the city of Nur-Sultan.
“This year Burabike cracked several records: both as for the number of participants – over 4 thousand people, and as for the amount of charity funds raised – over 300 million tenge”, – says Foundation Director Marat Aitmagambetov. “It’s a record-setting amount. For example, last year we raised 205 million tenge. Thanks to sponsors, philanthropists, participants we will expand the list of beneficiaries.”
This time the festival was attended by over four thousand guests. They could enjoy an eventful programme. On the first day, an amateur race on road bikes was held for two distances: 35 and 70 kilometres.   Sports lovers had a tennis tournament, and those who wanted to relax al fresco – watched a concert sponsored by The 31 Channel where Kazakhstani showbiz stars performed. The first day of the festival ended with a gala dinner and a charity auction for philanthropists and prominent businessmen. The organisers could raise 164 million tenge. The most valued by buyers lot was a custom-engraved bench which will be put in the territory of the Almaty Botanical Garden after its reconstruction. This lot was sold for 20 million tenge. A set of five flutes out of the collection of Kazakhstani singer Batyrkhan Shukenov was sold like hot cakes for 13 million tenge. This year in a row, lots from famous sports legends were put up for auction: the first racket of the world – Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, the second racket of the world in singles – Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, the winner of the Tour de France 2019 – Egan Bernal, Brazilian football player Pele. Kazakhstani stars also support charity: Astana Team bicycle racers, tennis player Zarina Diyas, Olympic swimming champion Dmitry Balandin, boxer Serik Sapiyev, singer Dimash Kudaibergen, professional boxer Gennady Golovkin. And among the guests one can come across with famed sportsmen, prominent politicians and businessmen like Berik Imashev, Alexander Vinokurov, Raimbek Batalov, Nurlan Smagulov, Arystanbek Mukhamediuly and others.
“The initiative of Bulat Utemuratov is worthy of respect”, – believes the owner of Astana Group, Nurlan Smagulov, who has been taking part in the festival for the seventh year in a row. “First, this is sports, secondly – charity. He combined these two things which I much like myself. The organizer of this festivity is a man of big heart. Therefore, it’s great to toe the starting line together and to have a ride.”
The second day of the festival was not less intense: bike ride of 10 km for all comers, open air, performance of popular Kazakhstani musicians, creative master classes and, of course, the charity auction. This time the organizers raised 6.2 million tenge, including proceeds from the auction, donations and revenues from sales of branded sports outfit. Plus registration fees and sponsor contributions exceeded 130 million tenge. So the record amount of 300.2 million tenge was collected.
“We are grateful to every participant, sponsor, auction lot buyer for their contributions. Thanks to holding Burabike Fest, quality of medical services is improving in various regions of our country, and people there can get access to the most advanced diagnostics and rehabilitation equipment”, – summarized the Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, Marat Aitmagambetov.
Burabike Fest initiator Bulat Utemuratov is not going to change the tradition – next year the Shchuchinsk-Borovoe resort area will again host the open air charity festival. Its format is not yet known, but the organisers promise it will be not less eventful and exciting.

Achievements of Kazakhstani tennis players Kukushkin and Rybakina: “We have never yet won such summits»

Mikhail Kukushkin defeated the 12th racket of the world at Wimbledon, reaching the 1/8 finals of the tournament for the first time. And Yelena Rybakina, for the first time in her career, won the WTA series tournament, storming into the top 100 of the world ranking.

This summer Kazakhstani tennis players Mikhail Kukushkin and Yelena Rybakina became quite a discovery at prestigious international tournaments. Firstly, they have beaten their own records. Secondly, their victories allowed Kazakhstan to step up to the new level in the world rating of tennis – and now our country is not just “mediocre”, but a hard nut to crack.

How Mikhail Kukushkin defeated the 12th racket of the world at Wimbledon

Mikhail Kukushkin has been playing for Kazakhstan from summer 2008. Just ten years ago he was the 157th in the world rating, now he is the 57th. Following his move to the Kazakhstan team, his career as a professional sportsman started boosting. By his 32 years he has become:
  • 14-time winner of the ATP Challenger series tournaments; two-time winner of the ITF series tournaments;
  • winner and three-time finalist of the ATP series tournaments;
  • Asiada champion.
This July he brilliantly played at the Wimbledon Championships. These competitions held on the grass court are among the four international Grand Slam tournaments. His first game in singles with Spaniard Pablo Andujar (winner of four ATP tournaments in singles and one junior Grand Slam tournament in doubles, former fifth racket of the world in junior ranking) took place on 2 July. The game ended in favour of the Kazakhstani. On 4 July Mikhail Kukushkin met with the 12th racket of the world – American tennis player John Isner (semi-finalist of one Big Slam tournament in singles; winner of 19 ATP tournaments; former eighth racket of the world in the singles rating). In this game the Kazakhstani has beaten his own record – took a victory over the opponent whom he couldn’t outcompete in four previous games. The duel lasted 3 hours 10 minutes and ended in favour of our tennis player. “It’s a sensation!”, – commented on the victory Dias Doskarayev, Vice President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation. “Firstly, Isner defeated Kukushkin four times and never lost to him. Secondly, the American holds the 12th line in the ATP rating. Thirdly, in 2018 John has reached the Wimbledon semifinals where he lost only to South African Kevin Anderson in the five-set duel. No one wants to challenge Isner – he is a very strong player. So, Mikhail gained an outstanding victory. He fought for every ball served by Isner, that is why he was successful.” Mikhail Kukushkin repeated his own record of 2014 – he, for the second time, became the participant of the third round in singles in Wimbledon. On 6 July the Kazakhstani met with German Jan-Lennard Struff (the 33rd racket of the world). Earlier Mikhail competed with him on the court three times. And all three times was overcome by the German tennis player. But for the fourth time our sportsman downed Jan-Lennard Struff, becoming, for the first instance in his career, the participant of the fourth round in singles at Wimbledon. The next game in the Grand Slam tournament which Mikhail Kukushkin held was with an equally titled tennis player – Japanese Kei Nishikori (finalist of one Grand Slam tournament, winner of 12 ATP tournaments, bronze medalist of the 2016 Olympic Games). Before that, the Kazakhstani played with him nine times. The tenth time was not in favour of Mikhail Kukushkin. However, his achievements at Wimbledon-2019 are the best result in his career of Grand Slam tournaments. Mikhail Kukushkin became the first Kazakhstani tennis player who managed to enter the fourth round of Wimbledon and the only one from the CIS countries who played in the 1/8 of the Grand Slam tournament.

How Yelena Rybakina stormed into the top-100 of the world rating

Yelena Rybakina is a young tennis player who has begun playing for Kazakhstan just recently (since June 2018). She is the European champion in U18 junior team championship. She became the third racket of the country in singles and performs so successfully that might be able to bypass the first racket of Kazakhstan. Semifinalist of the Australian Open and Roland Garros among juniors, four-time champion of the ITF series tournaments. In July 2019 Yelena Rybakina successfully performed at the Bucharest Open Tennis Championship where she managed to win her first WTA title. In the first game, Yelena Rybakina downed Spaniard Paula Badosa (winner of three ITF tournaments, former eighth racket of the world in the junior ranking, winner of one junior Grand Slam tournament in singles). The next meeting on the court was with Romanian Jacqueline Cristian. The duel ended in favour of the Kazakhstani. In the quarter-finals, Yelena Rybakina won the game against Victoria Kuzmova from Slovakia (US Open doubles junior champion). In the semifinals, the Kazakhstani continued her winning pace, defeating Italian Martina Di Giuseppe. In the finals, she met with Romanian Patricia Maria Tig. The mistress of the court could not win a single set, losing the victory to the young Kazakhstani tennis player. “This Kazakhstani tennis player is the fourth among the youngest champions of 2019 women’s tour and the fourth sports lady who gained the title losing no single set. Thanks to her victory at the Bucharest championship, Yelena Rybakina entered the top-70 of the world rating and continues her ascent to the summit of the tournament table”, – wrote Russian mass media about the overwhelming success of Yelena Rybakina (link: https://tennis––chempionka–wta–buharest/) After her triumph performance in Bucharest, she stormed into the top-100 of the world rating and is now the second racket of the country. Such summits have yet never been conquered by Kazakhstan. Our tennis players showed Kazakhstan as a strong “average” in the world arena. Since 2007, a huge number of tennis centres, academies, courts have been built in regions of Kazakhstan so that the young generation could honourably represent Kazakhstan at international tournaments using Grand Slam as an example. Hardly any other country in the world, except Kazakhstan, is now experiencing such a tennis boom. The victories of Mikhail Kukushkin and Yelena Rybakina demonstrate that the Tennis Federation, headed by Bulat Utemuratov, has created excellent conditions for professional growth of promising tennis players. Thanks to such achievements, top tennis players of the world level are beginning to understand that there will definitely be no easy game with representatives of Kazakhstan.

“Early diagnostics play a critical role” – employees of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation about new autism centres and awareness activity

From 2015 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation private charity has been implementing the “Autism. One world for all” project. The Foundation has already opened seven Assyl Miras autism centres within this project in various regions of Kazakhstan, where comprehensive and free of charge support is rendered to children with autism spectrum disorders and their families: this includes diagnostics, selection of intervention programmes, monitoring and progress assessment. In total, philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov has allocated 12.5 mln US dollars for this project. “Assyl Miras” centres use only the most advanced international techniques and practices. From the start of the project in 2015 these have been tried out by over 8,000 children, more than 70% of whom did diagnostics, and 74% of children with confirmed ASD became participants of intervention programmes. On the average, children’s life skills improved twice as a result of intervention programmes. The seventh autism centre opened its doors in July 2019 in the city of Shymkent with the support of the local city administration.  Now children with ASD here too have hope for revealing their special features at the earliest stage, and for efficient intervention for getting life skills and improvement of the quality of life of the entire family.
Pictured: Children studying at the Assyl Miras Centre
There is one more fund in Shymkent which is engaged in the issues regarding children with ASD – “Alliance of parents of children with ASD”, and, according to its founder Daniyar Seitzhan, there is a gap in diagnosing children with ASD in Shymkent. There is lack of awareness both among parents who often do not seek assistance in time, and among medical staff who make wrong diagnoses. Opening of the Assyl Miras Centre in Shymkent shall improve the autism situation in Shymkent considerably. Raising awareness is one of the important sectors of the activities run by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation. According to the official statistics of the Ministry of Health, there are not more than one thousand autistic children in Kazakhstan, but just for the period of work of centres, from 2015, parents of over 8,000 children approached them. And according to the statistics of the US Disease Control and Prevention Centre, ASD is diagnosed in one out of 59 children in the world.
Pictured: Marat Aitmagambetov – Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation
“When we just started our work in this filed, every 159th child in the world was born with autism”, said Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation Marat Aitmagambetov. “Last year every 59th child was born with this specific feature, and for the beginning of 2019 – already every 49th.”
In May 2019 representatives of Kazakhstani mass media, bloggers and activists witnessed a performance about autism – collaboration of the Assyl Miras project and the modern theatre “ARTiSHOCK”. Guests were invited to the Almaty autism centre but were not warned that there would be a performance. There the theatre actors went before them turning into the centre staff and parents of special children, told real personal stories, lived through and passed on to spectators the emotions which ASD children families feel every day.
Pictured: “ARTiSHOCK” theatre actors play at the Assyl Miras autism centre
This performance became a great opportunity to bring the public attention to the essence and the process of rehabilitation, why and which skills children get in the end, and how this impacts the life of their entire family. As Zhanyl Mukasheva, the Foundation Programme Director, says, skills can be verbal, daily living and social – it is necessary to help a child to form in total up to 1,500 skills. At this, a child might have no skill of indicating, i.e. he or she cannot explain to the loved ones that he is in pain or that he is hungry. In such cases early diagnostics play a critical role, but thist exists mainly in big cities, and the statistics in remote locations by contrast are sad – people are ashamed of special features of their children or have no access to information.
Pictured: Employees of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation holding an event for the capital journalists and bloggers
A press event was held for capital mass media and bloggers too. In order to popularize knowledge about ASD and methods of its correction, the Foundation staff held a familiarization conference in Nur-Sultan and asked journalists and opinion leaders to take information to their audiences so that more parents suspecting ASD in their children could bring them to Assyl Miras for diagnostics. The Centre staff also noted that young parents are often unaware of the signs and consequences of ignoring the symptoms of ASD, or they are embarrassed to recognize them, which leads to further complications and a decrease in the quality of life of their children. Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation plans to open two more Assyl Miras autism centres in the nearest future – in Pavlodar and Petropavlovsk.
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