The idea: February 1994 – Atle Vårvik
The inception: MOT established 13 April 1994 at Olympiatoppen
Founder and creator: Atle Vårvik
Co-founder: Johann Olav Koss
Co-creator: Sigrun Vårvik
Important supporters during the start-up:
Top leader of Norwegian elite sports and Olympiatoppen Bjørge Stensbøl, Customs director Vidar Vestreng, art director Finn Olderøien, photographer Ludvig Killingberg, Dr. Philos. Edvard Befring, Geir Solstad (Serieforeningen/Norsk Toppfotball – former interest organisation for the Norwegian Premier League), marketing director of the 1997 Nordic Ski World Championships, Grete Ingeborg Nykkelmo, Magne Vårvik, a number of Atle’s colleagues at the Customs, Solliakollektivet and former drug addicts.
Norwegian top athletes – in particular Stine Lise Hattestad, Hanne Haugland, Dag Otto Lauritzen, Erik Hoftun, Rune Bratseth, Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Espen Bredesen.
MOT’s name day:
22 February 1997. The name MOT was officially launched during the 1997 Nordic Ski World Championships in Trondheim. MOT Norway celebrates this date as its birthday.
MOT on four continents:
In 2020 MOT was established on four continents and in six countries. South Africa was the first MOT country beyond Norway.
«The beginning is the most important part of the work”, Plato.
This is the story about MOT’s beginning:
Shortly after the Olympic Winter Games in February 1994 Atle gets the idea to what we know as MOT today. Atle’s wife Sigrun is enthused and immediately becomes part of the team.
In March 1994, Atle tells his idea and about the initiative to his colleagues at the Customs. They express their excitement too. This is of great inspiration for Atle to start making plans for the initiative. Beginning of April 1994, Atle and Sigrun already have the first ideas and plans ready.
The idea is to prevent drug abuse, bullying and crime by reinforcing good values and attitudes in society, to strengthen self-esteem, self-confidence, and the awareness among youth, and spreading the following message to youth: “Make conscious choices!”, “Take care of each other!”, “Someone loves you!” and “Someone needs you!”. The idea is to visit school classes, give speeches and most of all spread a cool calendar with messages from top athletes to youth in every school in Norway. The idea is that top athletes will be ambassadors and an important tool to convey values – values that make youth more confident in themselves, make them find other options than using drugs/alcohol, make them take more responsibility and care more about others.
In the evening on 12 April a post Olympics event takes place for the national Olympic team in Oslo. Atle tells his idea and about his thoughts to the boys on the speed skating team, and he asks Johann Olav Koss if he would like to contribute to it. Johann says yes and the two of them make a meeting appointment with Bjørge Stensbøl, chair of Olympiatoppen, the following day.
13 April 1994, MOT is established with the temporary name “Norske Toppidrettsutøvere mot Narkotika” (Norwegian Top Athletes Against Drugs). This happens after Atle and Johann’s meeting with Bjørge at Olympiatoppen in Oslo. Bjørge becomes an important start-up helper. Johann and Sigrun become important effectuators of the new enterprise together with Atle.
August 1994, Atle has the first MOT speech and in October he visits the first school classes. During 1994-1996 Atle facilitates MOT sessions in schools, gives speeches, visits rehab centres and holds public meetings all over Norway – several times together with colleagues at the Customs, or top athletes, or former drug addicts. In 1995 and 1996 the most important activity and communication channel is a calendar given to every secondary and upper secondary school in Norway. It becomes popular and in 1995, 45 000 copies are distributed.
The goodwill of the Customs is of great value. From April 1994 until February 1997 Atle is allowed to spend most of his working hours at the Customs to develop the enterprise. In addition to that, several of his colleagues spend a lot of time helping Atle with practical tasks.
Atle still works as customs officer in 1995 and 1996. During a boarder control on a train in January 1996 Atle and his colleague take a young lady into custody. She is under the influence of drugs, and she is also carrying drugs with her. This becomes an emotional meeting to Atle and makes him decide to go “all in” for his new establishment. Spring 1996 he narrows the objective down to: Safer and warmer society by among other things establishing attitudes among children, youth and adults, preventing drug and alcohol abuse, violence and bullying.”
Spring 1996, Atle develops MOT’s three values and Finn Olderøien helps him develop a logo. A proposal for MOT’s logo is ready May 1996. Atle, Finn, Johann and Sigrun set up a plan for how to build MOT as a brand. March 1997 the first MOT employees are in place. The Customs puts offices at disposal – free of charge for MOT. The first 30 MOT coaches are educated in summer 1997 – enthusiasts from the Police and Customs.
Johann and Sigrun become crucial for Atle to succeed with his ideas. Johann is an important partner, door opener and contributor over the first years. Sigrun is driving force, supporter and sparring partner. Together with Atle she becomes a main partner in developing MOT from 1994-2021, and important for MOT’s success internationally.
In 1994-1996 Atle uses the Customs’ address and post box in Trondheim as the enterprise’s address. The activities are increasing. In a meeting with Atle in spring 1996 the leader of the Customs in Trondheim informs that the Customs had to expand their post box twice because of “Atle’s activities”. He expresses a sincere wish that Atle makes the enterprise into a legally registered foundation. He wants it to be legally in good order as well as financially, independent from the Customs. Therefore, July 1996, the enterprise is registered as the foundation “Norske Toppidrettsutøvere mot Narkotika”. Atle becomes both chairperson and managing director. Johann becomes deputy chairperson.
The auditor recommends more board members. Atle asks Terje Johansen (a friend and colleague) and Rune Bratseth to join as board members of the foundation and to attend 2-4 board meetings per year.
22 February 1997, the “name birth” happens and the name MOT is officially launched. At this point, Grete Ingeborg Nykkelmo and Atle together make the marketing department of the Nordic Ski World Championships in Trondheim. Together with Johann they manage to get great attention around the “name birth” nationally, as well as a lot of publicity and profiling in media. Dag Otto Lauritzen and Rune Bratseth also attends the happening as board members.
The continuation – leadership, concept, and internationalisation:
From 1997-2004 the board consists of Johann Olav Koss, Dag Otto Lauritzen, Rune Bratseth and Atle Vårvik. In 2003-2004 Atle wishes to have even more focused development of MOT and receives staff reinforcement that will give more support to the daily management and daily operations. Johann, Dag Otto, and Rune all want to step down as board members. Therefore, in fall 2004, two new board members come in: Gro Eide and Grete Ingeborg Nykkelmo. This makes it easier for Johann, Rune and Dag Otto to continue as board members. February 2005, Johann steps down as chairperson. Dag Otto and Rune are persuaded to stay on the board and from that day the “brand story” with Dag Otto and Rune as founding members is made.
In 2006, the first seed is planted for what shall become MOT South Africa. In 2009, the first seed is planted for what shall become MOT Thailand. In 2013, MOT Denmark is founded. In 2016, MOT Latvia is founded. In 2019, an agreement of intent is signed to establish MOT Minnesota.
In 2019, MOT’s Comprehensive System (concept and brand profile) is finalized.
In 2019, MOT is 25 years old. A documentary is made ->
January 2021, Atle steps down from his role as MOT’s entrepreneur and leader after 27 years.