Sports and recreation
In sports sector we are focusing on creating more facilities for enjoying active physical pursuits. We also support professional athletes so that they can inspire more and more people to exercise regularly.
The group’s largest sponsored project is the Estonian Health Trails (https://terviserajad.ee/) project founded in 2005 in collaboration with Swedbank and Eesti Energia. The aim of the project is to fix up and develop Estonian exercise and sports tracks to ensure the availability of year-round free of charge possibility for active exercise in nature for all interested people, and popularise sporty lifestyle. SA Eesti Terviserajad (Estonian Health Trails Foundation) has taken on a noteworthy role in shaping people’s exercise habits and popularising active lifestyle through a network of health trails, various events and active outreach.
Estonia now has 112 recreational trails all over the country and 1,100 km of footpaths and exercise tracks, of which soft-surfaced paths make up 900 km, hard-surfaced paths account for 200 km and illuminated paths make up around 250 km. Estonia has an average of 83.4 km (2017: 76 km) of maintained trails and tracks and 18.9 km of illuminated recreational trails or tracks per 100,000 people. They get approximately four million visits per year.
Three new health trails were added to the recreational trails network in 2018: a 2.7 km long trail in Orissaare, a 3 km long trail in Valjala, Saaremaa, and a 1.4 km long illuminated trail in Jõhvi. The biggest developments of the year took place on Narva Pähklimäe recreational trail, Nõmme Sports Centre, Pirita recreational trail, Valgehobusemäe and Kõrvemaa. Large-scale design project work continued for expanding Tallinn’s network of bicycle and pedestrian paths and health trails. Investments were made into track grooming and snow making equipment at Pähklimäe in Narva, Kuningamäe in Põltsamaa, Lähte, Kuressaare, Rakvere, Võru, Tabasalu, Jõulumäe, Kuremaa and Värska.
To simplify navigation for the trail users, 80 large-format maps were installed and 62 trails use markings designed and installed by the foundation. All over Estonia 37 stretching walls have been installed for warm-up and cool-down stretching after exercise. The foundation has produced a total of 80 instructional videos in the Estonian and Russian language, in addition to inspirational video interviews with celebrities and video overviews from the trails and events. The videos received almost two million views in 2018.
With the aim of emphasising the importance of regular physical activity and to facilitate activity also inside the buildings, the foundation has developed a concept of an indoor health trail. In cooperation with various organisations, enterprises and schools, tracks suitable for the buildings have been prepared, taking advantage of staircases, corridors and the courtyard areas. As of the end of 2018, SA Eesti Terviserajad had laid out 70 indoor tracks that are used by 70,000 people every day. In 2018, the Estonian National Library and the North Estonia Medical Centre opened indoor tracks in their respective buildings.
In the years 2005-2018, the SA Eesti Terviserajad foundation backed by its founders has invested 4.8 million euros into developing recreational trails. The investments have been made into all Estonian counties, most of them in Harju, Tartu and Ida-Viru counties. Based on the preferences of the population in the area where the trails are developed and used most actively, the biggest investments have been made at Pirita, Nõmme-Harku, Kõrvemaa and Jõulumäe centres and trails.
In the period 2004-2018, the total investment into the Estonian recreational trails network (in addition to the foundation’s investment also includes state and local governments’ investments and support from the European Union) amounts to close to 40 million euros.
INSTAGRAM @ESTONIAN HEALTH TRAILS
Estonian tennis is currently in a better place than it has ever been at any time in its previous 100 and more years, at both professional and amateur level. Starting in 2015, Merko is the gold sponsor of the Estonian Tennis Association, providing support for top-level adult tennis and international tournaments. Merko’s contribution to the development of Estonia’s best men’s tennis player Jürgen Zopp and, in summers, the organizing of the Merko Estonian Open in Pärnu, deserve to be highlighted. In 2017, Zopp and Kaia Kanepi won the Estonian Open in front of adoring home crowds.
In addition, for many years Merko has supported Estonian skiing, also Estonian formula driver Martin Rump and Estonian racing driver Kevin Korjus. We have also supported a beach volley- and football center that complies with international requirements, which was established by Audentes Volleyball Club.