Games businessmen play!

Football is clearly the number one corporate sport

Football is clearly the number one corporate sport

The Russian business community is investing generously into sports, encouraging their staff to stay in shape.

According to the ANCOR HR agency, sport-related compensation is offered by 21 pc of Russian and 18 pc of Russia-based foreign firm averaging in real terms to $98 and $738 respectively.

Why are companies willing to spend all that money? They enhance their reputation by demonstrating that they care about their staff and treat them as individuals with a wide range of needs rather than hired biorobots. Sports help narrow the social gap between the rank-and-file and management as well as develop team-player skills.
Football is clearly the number one corporate sport in Russia. It is not, however, the conventional type of soccer with eleven players on each team. For managers and top executives, it is more practical to play indoor soccer or use a quarter of a standard pitch, with five or six players a side.

“My work is sedentary and stressful so a game of football sheds both, calories and stress. I generally play three or four times a week,” says Oleg Lanskoy, the managing director of a big transport company.
Leonid Edlin, Creative Director at the IntelSport corporate event agency says that the demand for football training programmes exceeds supply. “There are a few available pitches of decent quality that could be conveniently leased outside working hours: in the evenings on business days and on weekends. It is particularly hard to find indoor or heated-turf fields for the winter season. So there is plenty of room for investment in this segment,” says Edlin.

As for the number two corporate sport, quite a few candidates are neck and neck: volleyball, tennis, billiards, paintball, and carting. Among less popular sports are hockey, basketball, ping-pong, and downhill skiing. The most elitist include squash, sailing and golf. Some sports such as polo, show-jumping, car racing, and various kinds of extreme sports, are exotic for Russia and attract only a few connoisseurs.

Football, volleyball and tennis are relatively affordable hobbies. Half of a football ground can be leased for $100 to $150 an hour, so each player spends no more than $10 per training session. Indoor venues, however, can cost two or three times more.

Paintball is becoming an increasingly popular activity in Russia

The cost of renting facilities and equipment can vary widely even for the same kind of sport. For instance, the price of renting a tennis court in Moscow ranges from $30 to $200 an hour, and the use of a volleyball court may cost from $30 to $100 an hour. To enjoy the most expensive sports, golf and yachting, you may have to fork over from $100 to several thousand dollars an hour depending on the quality and prestige of the location.

Naturally, most businessmen prefer sports they played in their youth or childhood. Top executives or shareholders, who are passionate devotees of a particular kind of sport, often initiate company-wide programmes to set up teams, conduct training sessions and take part in tournaments with other companies.

Corporate sport in Moscow has turned into a big business. Executives who are chronically short of time commonly resort to specialised agencies to make the necessary arrangements. Moscow has a number of event agencies that organise corporate competitions. “Corporate sports are gaining ground fast in various industries,” explains Leonid Edlin. "Companies associated with metal products are keen on Russian billiards tournaments. The construction industry plays football and volleyball. IT specialists prefer bowling and American pool. Every weekend, Moscow sees multiple competitions in various kinds of sport and the number of new participants keeps growing. Although the crisis set back this segment too, we now see a brisk revival of the market.”

Many companies conduct corporate Olympic games. Vneshtorgbank, the second biggest bank in Russia holds annual games attracting employees from over ten countries and 50 Russian cities to challenge their colleagues in golf, darts, carting, bowling, etc. At Sberbank and UralSib, both management and staff play on the same team. Pavel Makarevski, Deputy Director General at IMA Consulting says there is no class segregation in their company.

Foreign businessmen and expats also take an active part in corporate sports events in Moscow. Teams taking part in indoor soccer games are often composed of German, American and Yugoslavian businessmen. Expats take credit for importing the game of polo into Russia. Foreigners also constitute a sizable clientele of golf clubs in and outside Moscow. On the whole, there is hardly a sport, however exotic and rare, which you would be unable to enjoy in the Russian capital.

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