Whether it’s basketball, football, golf or skiing, I have always been passionate about sports. It keeps your mind and body healthy.
In Mongolia, we consider basketball our national sport. We grow up on basketball, and Mongolians often joke that we start playing basketball at six, and we play until we are 60. It’s a popular sport for both males and females, and it’s actually one of the sports I like to play with my own children.
In 2004 while at XacBank, I felt it was important to create the Hasyn Huleguud (Has Horses) basketball team in the Mongolian Basketball League. It was a professional team that we built from scratch. It became a national champion, and we ultimately became four-time national champions. I was then asked to lead the Mongolian Basketball Association in 2013.
I am also very proud of my work with Boom 2020, which is another youth development and sports program that I initiated during my career.
I was CEO of XacBank when the FIFA World Cup was held in Germany in 2006. It was the first time the World Cup was broadcast live in Mongolia, and we decided to sponsor a big event that included live shows and translation to promote soccer in Mongolia. It wasn’t a very popular sport at the time, but the event was a huge success. That’s when Boom 2020 was born.
Known as “Duulian 2020” in Mongolia, it was a national youth soccer league involving all the schools in Mongolia where children learned to play soccer and the value of teamwork. When we started it in 2006, we planned to sponsor it for the next 15 years until 2020. We wanted to show the country that youth sports initiatives can be successful.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, the program was extended a year and the campaign ended in 2021. I am happy that there was a proper closing to Boom 2020, since it was a 15-year long campaign and deserves to come to a remarkable end. However, it will still be offered to young people under a new name and new leadership. The National Association of Football is taking it over in 2022, and is planning to extend it to 2030.
XacBank’s successful basketball team was a great accomplishment, and really revived the idea of basketball as our national sport. The team still exists today and is doing quite well.
Boom 2020 has also had lasting impacts. Every year since its inception, 3,000 children in Mongolia have played in the league. It was broadcasted on television, and it became a national event. Presidents and prime ministers have attended, and many companies have sponsored it over the years. Today, many of those children are professionally playing soccer and I believe their involvement in Boom 2020 put them on the path to their athletic careers.
I believe that introducing youth to sports can create lasting impacts. Sports keep children physically and mentally healthy, and at the same time, they are introduced to the concept of teamwork at a young age.
As children grow, they begin to understand the value of teamwork in all facets of their lives. The more effective team players we have, the better it is for the country.