By Gary Anderson at Sanbopolis in Trento

December 14 - The 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty needs to focus on social as well as sporting legacy claims an official observer ©Bloomberg via Getty Images A key challenge facing organisers of the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almtay is ensuring that not only will the event create a positive sporting environment but also leave a lasting social legacy for the country's youth, an official from Kazakhstan admitted here today. 

Pavel Shegay, who works with the Tuzu Zholy organisation, which aims to use sport as a tool in improving the social as well as physical well-being of citizens in the country, was speaking to insidethegames here in Trento, as part of the official Observer Programme here at Trentino 2013.

He was keen to stress that when the 28th Winter Universiade comes to Almaty four years from now, organisers will recognise the huge opportunity to use the event to affect the mentality of young people in Kazakhstan and empower them with a sense of purpose in life through using sport as a vehicle to improve their lives.

"Maybe we need to not underestimate the scale of this event and realise that it is a worldwide event and has power," Shegay told insidethegames.

"It is about ideology.

"We need to focus on the social aspect of organising a Universiade because this is a key thing.

"We have to understand that we will be working with [people] who will be the future leaders and opinion leaders, and that is why we have to spend more time working with the youth.

"This goes beyond the usual organising work of building the venues, creating sustainability and legacy.

"It should be a youth event, not only about sport but perhaps more importantly about the social [aspect] and developing opportunities for young people.

"We have to be smart enough to get the maximum effect [of hosting the games] to touch every side of society.

"It is a very common thing that sport is very important for youth and society.

"Sport can help our youth set [goals] and have a positive effect on many lives.

"I am sure if we do it right then we will get such a big effect."

The Shymbulak Alpine Resort in Almaty may be one of the venues used for the 2017 Winter Universiade ©Getty Images The Shymbulak Alpine Resort in Almaty may be one of the venues used for the 2017 Winter Universiade ©Getty Images

Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, was awarded the 28th Winter Universiade in 2011 by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and since then Shegay says officials from the city have been attending subsequent Universiades in order to prepare.

He has been particularly impressed by the relaxed atmosphere at Trentino 2013 suggesting that, perhaps more than most Universiades in the past, this one reflects the real student experience and ethos that should characterise such events, but hinted that replicating such an atmosphere in Almaty may be a difficult challenge.

"We are absolutely different," he told insidethegames.

"In mentality, the region, in everything.

"It will be absolutely different but it's ok, we are expecting that and it should be like this.

"We are facing some challenges but this is usual.

"[The Universiade] is vital for us I think.

"This is a very important part of the strategy to promote the country and the region.

"Our Government, our leaders and the authorities are trying to develop our country and we are reaching the right way and achieving results."

Almaty is one of six cities including Beijing, Kraków, Lviv, Oslo and Stockholm that are bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related Stories
August 2013: Almaty lodges 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games bid