Football for everyone

Monday, November 4, 2019



FC Shakhtar, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Special Olympics Ukraine announced the launch of a joint football project for girls with intellectual disabilities

On the 3rd of November, they introduced the project at the Novopecherska school in Kyiv, where 20 girls with intellectual and developmental disabilities will train on a regular basis.
Shakhtar legend at the opening
The first session was attended by a former Shakhtar player and the current Shakhtar U21 assistant manager Hennadiy Zubov. He helped them organize a few exercises, talked to the kids and had pictures taken with them, he also handed them gifts from Shakhtar Social.
“It’s really nice that they hold this kind of events. The activities develop children and improve their agility. I am glad to be invited, and I always welcome this kind of projects with pleasure. I suppose this is effective and right in terms of humanity,” Hennadiy Zubov pointed out. “We had a very good morning session. Some girls handle the ball pretty well, making accurate passes and delivering shots on target. In the first lessons, it’s necessary to explain what kind of exercises they need, how to perform one or another task, and then, during the activities, it will be easier for them to do what the coach and teacher said. Everything of genius is simple: we need to behave naturally with children, to guide and help them in everything. There is no difficulty in that. Any developmental exercises can be done every day and I’m sure they will only benefit the kids.”
Jaime Nadal, the United Nations Population Fund representative in Ukraine:
“Reducing gender inequality in sports is a really important thing. Last year, together with U-Report, we conducted a survey among young people: about 30% of girls consider football to be exclusively a men's sport, but at the same time, 45% of girls loved to play football in childhood. There shouldn’t be such a gender division. In the new project, we’ve taken it a step further and we want to support girls with intellectual disabilities, to give them the opportunity to play football, socialize, and develop.”
Inna Khmyzova, Shakhtar Social director:
“UNFPA, Special Olympics Ukraine, and Shakhtar Social are united by a single vision: everyone can play football, regardless of gender, physical and mental abilities. As part of the Come On, Let’s Play project, we conduct free regular training sessions with good coaches and the necessary equipment. In our sessions, children not only physically develop but also socialize and acquire teamwork skills.”
Andriy Pidvarko, Special Olympics Ukraine executive director:
“Every day, thanks to sports, special children discover new talents and opportunities in themselves, they improve their performance, destroy barriers and prejudices. Women's football is rapidly gaining momentum in the world. More and more girls are choosing this particular sport, and it is no coincidence that this year, Ukraine women's national football team have won gold medals at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. Therefore, we are launching a unique project. Girls participate in it for free. We believe that people with intellectual disabilities can succeed if we give them that chance.”
The joint project was launched in four cities of Ukraine: Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk. Four coaches and eight Come On, Let’s Play! volunteers work with the girls based on the adapted training methodology specially developed for Disability Football.