By Evie Andreou
A €350,000 donation to be used for the National Guard’s sports and physical recreation activities was given by OPAP Cyprus betting company to Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides on Thursday.
The money will be used to create or upgrade gyms in army camps, Fokaides said, as part of his ministry’s new policy for promotion of sports in the National Guard, to make army service as productive and beneficial for conscripts as possible.
He added that the money would also be used to buy sports equipment for army outposts.
“The donation is a step toward our goal to promote sports in army camps and reinforce the conscript’s fitness capabilities,” Fokaides said.
He added that the project is based on focusing on star athletes serving as conscripts, offering new training programmes for the conscripts, especially martial arts and self-defence techniques, and infrastructure.
“The aim is to create new infrastructure or upgrade existing ones, or man them with qualified trainers. Our goal is [for the gyms] to be in full operation for daily use by the conscripts and National Guard personnel,” he said.
Following the donation, he said, the process would begin immediately for the creation of sports infrastructure in all camps island-wide.
He added that the programme would come through tenders and was expected to be completed by the end of 2016
The donation was part of President Nicos Anastasiades’ call to companies to become socially engaged, OPAP’s CEO Demetris Aletraris said.
His company would be a supporter of the ministry’s sports programme which is crucial for the conscripts’ health and role as guardsmen, Aletraris said.
“We feel obliged to contribute to the materialisation of some of the programmes of the National Guard which focus on our guardsmen’s health and safety,” he said.