Sports and recreation
In sports sector we support the development of the youth sport, focusing on skiing. We also support the projects contributing to the creating of the possibilities for sporting and active vacation for many people.
Merko values sport and healthy lifestyle. In 2004 the company established SA Eesti Terviserajad (Estonian Health Trails) together with Swedbank and Eesti Energia. The aim of the project is to adjust and develop the exercise and sports tracks of Estonia to ensure the availability of the year-round and free possibility for active exercise in nature for all interested people and popularize the sporty lifestyle.
As a result of the eleven years of work, Estonia now has 109 health trails all over the country and nearly 1,000 km of paths and exercise tracks, of which soft-surfaced tracks make up 800 km, hard-surfaced paths account for around 200 km and illuminated paths or tracks make up around 200 km. Estonia has an average of 59.8 km of maintained tracks and 15.4 km of illuminated tracks per 100,000 people. They are visited approximately four million times per year. To simplify navigation for the trail users, 75 large-format maps were installed and 58 trails use markings designed and installed by the foundation. All over Estonia 34 stretching walls have been installed for warm-up and cool-down stretching after exercise. As of the present date, the foundation has also produced about 70 Estonian and Russian language instructional videos. Today, thanks to the foundation’s initiative, close to 40 indoor recreational tracks have been established in the buildings of various Estonian companies and organisations. The objective of the indoor tracks is to emphasise the importance of regular exercise and promote physical activity in indoor environments as well.
From 2005 to 2016, SA Eesti Terviserajad (Estonian Health Trails Foundation) invested, with its founders’ support, a total of EUR 4.2 million into developing recreational trails. The investments were made into all Estonian counties, with the biggest ones in Harju County, Tartu County and Ida-Viru County. Based on the preferences of the population in the respective locations of the trails and level of active use, the biggest investments were made into the facilities and tracks at Pirita and Nõmme-Harku in Tallinn, and Kõrvemaa and Jõulumäe.
In the period of 2014-2016, the total investment made (includes not only the SA Eesti Terviserajad’s investments but state and local government investments and support from the European Union) into the development of the Estonian recreational trails network is nearly EUR 35 million. Of the counties, Harju County, Ida-Viru County, Põlva County and Viljandi County have received the most investments.
For many years, Merko has supported Estonian skiing with the goal of making its contribution to the development of top athletes and to use their role model to encourage more people in Estonia to get active. For 10 years, Merko was the cooperation partner of the Estonian Ski Association, supporting the national Nordic ski team and junior team.
From 2015, Merko is supporting MTÜ Team Haanja, a non-profit founded at the initiative of eight skiers. The project is aimed at helping young athletes make it into the international elite and allow the current strong skiers to remain internationally competitive, contributing to fostering conditions for training facilities in line with modern requirements. Team Haanja comprises eight athletes: national team members Triin Ojaste, Algo Kärp, Raido Ränkel, Aivar Rehemaa, Karel Tammjärv and U23/junior team members Marko Kilp, Alvar Johannes Alev and Andreas Veerpalu.
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. Merko has entered into a three-year cooperation agreement with the Estonian Tennis Federation, which is targeted at supporting the organisation of tournaments for top adult tennis players and international competitions through contributing to the development of Jürgen Zopp and the organisation of the Merko Estonian Open in Pärnu.
Click to open Merko Estonian Open 2015 photo gallery.
In 2014 Merko supported Estonian formula driver Martin Rump who is participating in Formula Renault Eurocup motor racing championship. At the “Estonian Autosport Stars 2013” award gala Rump was recognised with three awards: Best Racing Driver, Ants Seiler´s award “Best formula driver in international arena” and Toivo Asmer´s award “Best newcomer in the formula series”.
In 2013 Merko supported Estonian racing driver Kevin Korjus who is participating in the GP3 Series, meant for young drivers and working as a feeder for the GP2 and to the Formula1 series.
Merko has supported also international ITF-series tennis tournament Merko Open 2011 which took place in Tere tennis centre in Tondi on 18-23 July 2011. Jürgen Zopp, Estonian number one male tennis player, played his only single tournament at home this summer at the 15,000-dollar tournament.