Month: September 2023

World renowned tennis players Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Bublik and Sebastian Korda visit Autism Center in Astana

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In what has become a tradition at the Astana Open, tennis players Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Bublik and Sebastian Korda visited a center for autistic children in Kazakhstan’s capital city.

The athletes received paintings from children at the Asyl Miras Autism Center and in turn gave them gifts.

The assistance provided by the Center is “very important” said Wawrinka. “It’s important to help these kids and give them the skills they need in life”, the Swiss star added.

Dominic Thiem, social workers with children, Stan Wawrinka, and Bulat Utemuratov – Photo credit: The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation

“The Center is truly impressive”, said Austrian player Thiem, who additionally praised the qualified staff who help the children.

Asyl Miras Autism Centers are a key project of Bulat Utemuratov Foundation, which has opened 12 Centers in Kazakhstan, including two in Astana.

The Foundation was established in 2014 by Bulat Utemuratov, a leading Kazakhstani businessman and philanthropist who oversees its activities. Utemuratov is President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Vice President of International Tennis Federation and the key investor in the projects managed by Verny Capital investment group.

Last year, Novak Djokovic — now a 24-time Grand Slam champion — and fellow Grand Slam winners Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev also visited the Center ahead of their opening matches, as did Grand Slam semifinalist Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that Early diagnosis of Autism is critical.

“A broad range of interventions, from early childhood and across the life span, can optimize the development, health, well-being and quality of life of autistic people”, the WHO said on its website.

“Timely access to early evidence-based psychosocial interventions can improve the ability of autistic children to communicate effectively and interact socially…The monitoring of child development as part of routine maternal and child healthcare is recommended”, the WHO continued.

Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem interacting with children – Photo credit: The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation

So far, about 15,000 children with autism spectrum disorder have benefited from programs through Bulat Utemuratov Foundation.

Like many ATP tournaments, the Astana Open has a strong social dimension, with a number of activities taking place around the event.

Along with Autism Center visit, the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation organized a masterclass for young players from across the country with leading players from the tournament. Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik hosted the event, along with Tallon Griekspoor from the Netherlands, Czech player Jiri Lehecka, Adrian Mannarino from France and Australia’s Alexey Popyrin.

Separately Dominic Thiem, Argentina’s Sebastian Baez, Roberto Carballés Baena from Spain and French player Grégoire Barrère took part in a photoshoot with homeless pets at the Balto animal shelter, to raise awareness of stray pets and the shelter’s work finding new owners.

Kids Day with Alexander Bublik – Video credit: The Kazakhstan Tennis Federation


Bulat Utemuratov Foundation signs MOU with world-leading autism expert Connie Kasari

  • Represents Kazakhstan’s ambition to become leading regional autism support center
  • Partnership will help children with autism across Kazakhstan, using JASPER methodology
  • Announcement made at Foundation’s 5th Autism Conference, bringing together experts

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Bulat Utemuratov Foundation announces that it has signed a three-year Memorandum of Intent for Cooperation and Interaction with world-renowned autism spectrum disorder expert Dr. Connie Kasari. This is aimed at implementing joint projects to support children with ASD, including early diagnostics, training specialists and organising seminars. It will pave the way for Kazakhstan to become a leading regional center for autism research, training and treatment.

Marat Aitmagambetov, Bulat Utemuratov, Dr. Jonathan Panganiban, Dr. Almaz Sharman, Dr. Connie Kasari, Assoc. Prof. Josephine Barbaro - Photo Credit: Bulat Utemuratov Foundation
Marat Aitmagambetov, Bulat Utemuratov, Dr. Jonathan Panganiban, Dr. Almaz Sharman, Dr. Connie Kasari, Assoc. Prof. Josephine Barbaro – Photo Credit: Bulat Utemuratov Foundation

The partnership was announced at Bulat Utemuratov Foundation’s 5th International “Asyl Miras. Autism. One World for All” conference in Astana, Kazakhstan. This year’s theme is “Diagnosis and Early Intervention in ASD”, one of the areas that the work with Dr. Kasari will cover. The conference was attended by world renowned experts in ASD who discussed the latest developments in the early diagnosis of autism, with practical seminars for teachers, students and parents on children with ASD.

Recognition of the importance of early diagnosis and intervention for ASD is growing, demonstrating clear benefits of the effectiveness of treatment and improving quality of life for children and their families. The Foundation will work with Dr. Kasari to provide training for the Foundation’s specialists and Trainer of Trainers (“TOT”), to train the next generation of experts.

Beyond this, the Foundation and Connie Kasari will jointly develop a training plan for specialists from across Kazakhstan, including creating different certification levels and mechanisms for assessing and supporting training. The training program will be based on the Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, and Regulation (“JASPER”) treatment approach, which was pioneered by Dr. Kasari.

JASPER methodology is already used in the Foundation’s 12 Asyl Miras autism centers across Kazakhstan. More than 15,000 children have received treatment at the centers since in 2015, and the Foundation has invested US$12.5 million in this project.

In addition, the partnership will conduct joint research projects and develop tools to promote the JASPER methodology in Kazakhstan.

Almaz Sharman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bulat Utemuratov Foundation, said: “As the leading international autism expert, we are thrilled to be working with Dr. Kasari on advancing the mentorship program associated with JASPER, which is a ground-breaking methodology she developed to enhance the early social communication skills of children with autism spectrum disorders. The partnership will help improve the lives of children and their families across Kazakhstan, providing the support and care they need. It is also an important moment for autism support in Central Asia, building on the Foundation’s work to date and paving the way for Kazakhstan to become a leading regional center for research, training and treatment.”

Connie Kasari, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Psychiatry and Founding Member of Center for Autism Research & Treatment, UCLA, said: “There is growing awareness of autism in Kazakhstan, and this important initiative will play a key role in further developing the systems and structures to support children with autism spectrum disorders. It is encouraging to see that specialists in Kazakhstan use the JASPER method in their work, and I believe that our cooperation with the Foundation will allow us to strengthen the professional community of behavioral specialists and develop successful support strategies for more families with autistic children.”


President of Kazakhstan Tennis Federation Bulat Utemuratov Re-elected to ITF Board

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Elections to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board of Directors were held in Cancun, Mexico. Under the auspices of a special election commission and independent auditors, voting took place through secret ballot among eligible ITF members. Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, was re-elected to the Board of Directors for a new term, running from 2023-27. It will be his third term as a member of the Board.

Bulat Utemuratov will remain on the board of ITF until 2027 - Photo Credit: ITF
Bulat Utemuratov will remain on the board of ITF until 2027 – Photo Credit: ITF

Such recognition and trust on the part of the global tennis community is testament to the consistent delivery of election promises and the implementation of vital tasks to advance the global tennis agenda. Over the past four years, Bulat Utemuratov has helped pay special attention to issues of transparency within the organization, as well as to increasing organizational effectiveness through the introduction of necessary governance changes, such as the separation of roles between President and CEO, in line with best corporate practices. Relevant amendments were made to the ITF’s constitution and internal documents to incorporate these developments.

As Vice President of the ITF, Bulat Utemuratov also worked to advance children’s tennis, particularly in the under-12 age categories, by holding various regional team competitions. This age is critical for children’s development because they need international tournament practice, but the majority of young players do not have sufficient resources to travel. To address the problem, five of the most in-need regions of the world were awarded support: Oceania, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. The KTF President personally awarded more than $3 million in additional funding to help stage the regional team championships, in which more than 1,000 children from the five regions participated.

“I believe that the tennis community should unite as much as possible to realize the enormous potential of our sport, which is in the top-3 in terms of audience, but barely in the top-10 in terms of financial income. We need to make every effort to realize our opportunities, deliver significantly more resources to build new courts and facilities, stage tournaments, and fund talented players in all corners of the world,” Bulat Utemuratov said after the announcement of the voting results.

In 2021, Kazakhstan increased the number of votes it has to exercise at the annual general meeting (AGM) from 5 to 7. This is the third-highest of six ITF membership levels awarded to national federations. Representatives of 155 countries voted for this decision at the 2021 AGM — a sign of the significant progress made to develop tennis in Kazakhstan, which is now among the world’s top 20 tennis powers.

SOURCE: Kazakhstan Tennis Federation /

Kazakhstan Tennis Federation: Anna Danilina claims US Open Championship

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Anna Danilina together with Finnish player Harri Heliovaara won the US Open 2023 mixed doubles title.

In the finals, the Kazakh-Finnish duo defeated top seeds Americans Jessica Pegula and Austin Krajicek 6:3, 6:4.

Kazakhstan Tennis Federation: Anna Danilina at the US Open with President of Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov.
Kazakhstan Tennis Federation: Anna Danilina at the US Open with President of Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov.

Ranked No.29 in doubles on the Hologic WTA Tour, Danilina has won her first Grand Slam and delivered Kazakhstan its first Grand Slam mixed doubles title.

“I have no words,” Danilina said. “It was an amazing run. It’s been a pleasure. To many more.”

During the awards ceremony, Danilina also congratulated her opponents, expressed her gratitude to her partner Harri Heliovaara, and thanked her fans, the tournament organisers, and her team for their support.

“I would like to thank Bulat Utemuratov, our President of Tennis Federation who came here today, and the whole federation for supporting me and tennis in Kazakhstan. It’s been an amazing opportunity, and I am so happy that we won this title for the first time ever!” she added. 

Bulat Utemuratov, the President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation and the Vice-President of the International Tennis Federation also commented on Anna Danilina’s victory, “This is the first Grand Slam victory for Anna Danilina and yet another success for Kazakhstani tennis! Anna is our country’s best doubles player and her achievement makes us more confident about the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup World Team Championships, where Danilina will be one of the leaders of Kazakhstan’s national tennis team.”

He added, “Last year, she played in the Australian Open finals, but unfortunately, didn’t return home with a victory. Experience, perseverance and a high level of play earned her the Grand Slam mixed doubles title this year. Anna’s constant progress makes us very optimistic about the victories ahead of her!”

SOURCE: Kazakhstan Tennis Federation /


These first-grade school children will be attending the school – Photo credit:
  • New school in Kazakhstan, providing innovative and progressive education for 3,000 pupils
  • $16.5 million project with state-of-the-art educational, sports and recreational facilities
  • Accessible for students with physical and visual impairments
  • Will help alleviate the shortage of school facilities in Kosshy and Kazakhstan

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Bulat Utemuratov Foundation (the “Foundation”) is pleased to announce the opening of a new municipal school in the town of Kosshy, in Kazakhstan’s Akmola Region. It is set to be one of the leading schools in the country and will provide an innovative and progressive curriculum for local children.

Interior design of the new school in Kosshy – cafeteria | Photo credit: Bulat Utemuratov Foundation
The new school in Kosshy – assembly hall | Photo credit: Bulat Utemuratov Foundation
The new school in Kosshy – classroom | Photo credit: Bulat Utemuratov Foundation

The Foundation has fully financed the 7.5 billion Tenge ($16.5 million) project, which caters for 3,000 pupils, and has now donated the completed school to the local government of Kosshy to own and operate.

The school has state-of-the-art educational facilities, including bespoke classrooms, recreational areas, modern workshops, an information technology (IT) center, laboratory and art studio.

Additionally, the school has numerous sports facilities, including a basketball and volleyball court, a stadium with a mini football pitch and racetracks, as well as playgrounds.

Student wellbeing is a key focus, and the school has been made accessible with ramps and tactile paths for physically and visually impaired pupils, while its 17,500 square meter site has been landscaped with local species of grass, trees and shrubs.

Kazakhstan has seen a major increase in pupils in recent years, with 400,000 first-graders starting education in 2021, resulting in a significant burden on schools, including in Kosshy. This project will provide much needed educational facilities for local students, supporting the national “Comfortable School” initiative.

Almaz Sharman, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Bulat Utemuratov Foundation, commented: “Education is a key focus of the Foundation, and I am delighted to open this state-of-the-art school. The shortage of quality educational facilities is a key issue at both national and local levels, and our new school will play an important part in helping the next generation of pupils in Kosshy to flourish.”


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