UAF cooperation with UNHCR — support for internally displaced persons through football

This year, for the first time within the framework of sustainable development of the UAF, training was organized and conducted on a free basis for internally displaced persons under the UEFA C-license program. The initiative is implemented in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency, the "Rokada" charitable foundation and with the help of a UEFA grant to support refugees.

The UEFA C-license program provides qualified training in accordance with UEFA requirements for coaches and increases the level of knowledge, skills and qualifications of coaches working with children, youth and amateur teams.

"At our local level, as UNHCR, we have been cooperating with sports for a long time, but before we were more focused: we formed teams from the refugees themselves, and they played among themselves or with local teams. It was more aimed at their integration, which is one of the goals we pursue when we support sports. But this project includes, for example, a training component for trainers. This is also the improvement of their skills, which will open up more opportunities for them to integrate, to realize themselves as specialists. And, on the other hand, it is also a contribution to the communities where they will work with children, because sport is also a big component in psychological help for children, and I really hope that it will also be another impact, another result of these trainings already for members of the community where they will work. And with the tournament (Unity Cup of Ukraine-2023, organized by analogy with the tournament of UEFA and the United Nations Agency for Refugees EURO UNITY CUP. — Approx. Ed.) in general, it was great, I liked it: the children were delighted, they played, and it was a relief for the parents. I did not expect such an impact on my parents, they said: "For three days, we forgot what war is." And it was wonderful," Tetyana Lovtsova, Assistant for Community Protection at UNHCR, comments on cooperation with UAF.

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The training, which began in September of this year, was full. In addition to the theoretical unit, all trainees had to do practical work and work directly with children. The audience was also introduced to the functioning of the football club. It is about FC "YUKSA" (Tarasivka village, Kyiv region), where they were given a tour and told about the methodology of working with children's teams.

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After the training, the course participants met with the first vice-president of the Ukrainian Football Association, Vadym Kostyuchenko, and the honored coach of Ukraine, the general secretary of the All-Ukrainian Association of Football Coaches, Anatoly Buznik. During this meeting, the coaches received sports kits.

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After five training sessions and practice, 17 people successfully passed the exams and completed their studies.

Thanks to the partnership with the UN Refugee Agency, Alina Kaidalovska participated in the program as an internally displaced person. Alina is an active player of FC Mariupol. Until the age of 27, the girl lived in Mariupol. During the full-scale invasion, she left for Bulgaria, where she lived for six months, and then returned to Ukraine - to Kyiv, where she still lives. She had planned to study to become a coach for a long time, so she immediately agreed to the offer to apply for an interview and then take a training course. Summing up, Alina notes: "Now I'm training small children, and I didn't understand what kind of approach is needed for them and how to load them, what kind of load children under eight years of age can have. For example, I didn't know that you can't play with your head, you can't develop speed at that age, so it was very informative for me, and in the future I want to take older children and I will already know what to do with them." .

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"Communication and establishing interaction with parents, correct and correct formulation of one's thoughts and delivery of correct information. "Football is not only a sport, but also a science," says Oleg Bugayev, who moved to the capital from Kharkiv and has been working with children aged one-and-a-half to six years at the "Futbic" children's early development center for almost three years now. The young coach plans to develop, learn and share his experience.

"First of all, I would like to thank our partners - the UN Refugee Agency, the Rokada charitable foundation and UEFA - for their constant support. First of all, this project had the following tasks: to increase the level of knowledge, skills and qualifications of IDP coaches who work with children and youth and amateur teams, as well as those who plan to become a coach, and thus to expand graduates' access to the labor market. Also, a separate task of the general project is professional development, cultural exchange and psychological recreation of children from families of internally displaced persons. Yes, in joint efforts with our partners, we organized the first "Unity Cup" tournament (Ukrainian Unity Cup) by analogy with the European tournament EURO UNITY CUP. It is unique in that it emphasizes the role of football as a special and powerful tool that brings people together, promotes physical and mental health, and integrates forcibly displaced persons into host communities.

This month, we also graduated 17 qualified coaches who are ready to work with children's and youth and amateur teams. Therefore, I congratulate everyone on successfully passing the exam and wish you success! The most important thing is that our coaches can work with children under a peaceful Ukrainian sky as soon as possible," emphasized Vadym Kostyuchenko.

Evgeny Lopushko, who moved from Kharkiv to Rivne, successfully passed the exams and plans to train children. Football in Yevhen's life, as he notes, was not at the professional level, but at the amateur level.

"A lot of positive emotions and a lot of useful information that I will take (already took some of it) to use in the future. I would like to thank everyone — speakers, curators, organizers — for such a learning opportunity and support throughout the course. Regarding future plans, I want to try, since I live in Rivne, to organize a series of free training sessions for children from IDPs and large families. This is an experience for me. It will work out or not, but there are such plans," concluded the young coach.

All graduates of the UEFA C-license program received basic sports equipment for training and working with children.

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