Sergei Semak: "Family is the most important thing there can be"

The boss on family life, his children and their hobbies, and the attitude to disabilities in Russia. 
Sergei Semak: "Family is the most important thing there can be"

About his childhood and family:

My grandmother, my mother's mother, was the main person for me growing up. My mum worked hard to bring us up but I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was incredibly kind and hardworking and was an angel for me. She never said anything bad about anyone and never swore, I never saw her in a bad mood. Even if she had a difficult life, she was never angry or sad, she was always a kind person and will always be an example for me as to how to live. 

My parents worked hard and gave us children everything they could, but there were five boys and we knew how difficult it was for them and I appreciate everything they did for us. 

On married life:

Family is the most important thing there can be, but it’s not always smooth going. It can be rather difficult for a husband and wife to live without problems, but knowing there is love is the most important thing in family life and children feel and understand everything. You have to listen to each other, without being over bearing or critical, we try to understand each other and be on the same page, to be friends in life and to raise our children together, that makes life good.

About his kids:

Our eldest son is already grown up! Ilya is 21 and has graduated in sociology from Moscow State University. He is full of energy, loves to travel, loves sport and is a very kind guy. He runs a futsal team, plays basketball and handball too. He has traveled around over half of Russia by train and car. He is always finding wonderful places to look at around Moscow and tells us about his trips. When I need to know something about travel, I ask him as he knows how to get anywhere in Europe for about 20 euros. I don’t know how he does it! 

Maya is 19, she does a lot of things too, including horse riding. Now she is studying tourism and business at university and is really enjoying it.

Semyon will soon be 14. He is also into sport, he likes fitness, boxing, singing and languages. He manages himself really well and is constantly saying: “I would like to try this, I would like to try that…” 

Tatyana is 13 years old, she likes climbing and is very strong. When I was at Ufa, she did wheelchair dancing. She’s really into music and wants to start playing the piano. Soon we’ll move closer to the right school for her.

Vana is 11 years old. He likes dancing, photography and is interested in art and science. Even from very early childhood, he loved science and even reads medical books! 

Barbara will soon be 10. She loves ballet dancing and is getting ready to start at a ballet school. She likes to try many different things. This summer she went to a golf camp and really liked it. I’ll have to go for the weekend and learn how to play golf.

Savva is 8 years old and soon will start second grade, he likes skating and wants to play football. He’s also into sport and is a strong kid, he really likes to give everything his best.

Our youngest daughter is Ilaria, she is 6 years old and will be 7 in February, and we’re looking for the right school for her now or deciding if we should wait another year. So far she’s our only child who is not sure about what hobbies she likes, so we’re helping he find the right thing for her at the moment. 

On societies attitude towards people with disabilities:

Unfortunately, we do not see children in wheelchairs or disabled children here in public, this is because firstly, it’s very hard for disabled children to get around easily, and secondly, society here is just not ready and looks at disabilities as a hurdle to everyday life. Disabled people are just like you or me, they just find it harder to get around. 

Tatyana has seen these issues, she has Sirenomelia, also know as mermaid syndrome, and uses a wheelchair. Everywhere there are raised curbs, with no ramps and this makes things quite difficult for her. In schools it is the same, there are no provisions for children like her at all.

Now She goes to a private school in St. Petersburg, but when we lived in Ufa her school didn’t have an elevator, so they built one especially for her, so she could get between floors, it was a wonderful school, absolutely wonderful, and Tatyana really liked it there and liked all the teachers. In St. Petersburg, even though there are many more schools here, unfortunately, there aren’t any like that one we had in Ufa. 

On travel and holidays:

Normally we spend all our free time with our kids and we have long holidays altogether, but I am very grateful to my wife as she insists that occasionally just the two of us take a short city break somewhere in Europe, so we can have a couple of days together.

But on holiday I can’t sit still. I constantly need to be doing something, going in the sea, surfing, biking, hiking or to go somewhere and look around see. I always want to be active, if I go somewhere, then I need to see and do everything! 

The full interview is available at