Hockey remains one of Ukraine’s favourite sports. It is a way of life for many, and whilst the war has hindered that, some of the country’s future stars have still been given the opportunity to take to the ice. Infront is funding the operations of seven youth hockey schools across Western and Central Ukraine to enable their work through the season and keep young hockey players on the ice, contributing both to their sporting success and their health.
On the 24 January – Ukraine’s Day of Unity – 110 players from eight clubs and schools competed in a Under 13s hockey competition at the Kyiv Sports Palace organised by the Ukrainian Hockey Dream (UHD).
Athletes from Kramarorsk (Kramatorsk), Specialized regional children’s and youth’s sports school (Kalush), Specialized youth sports school of the Olympic reserve (Kharkiv), Avangard children’s youth sports school (Kremenchuk), Galician Lions (Novoyavorivsk), Children’s youth sport school 1 (Lutsk), Sokil Secondary School (Kyiv), Kryzhynka Secondary School (Kyiv) were divided into six teams, each participating in four matches.
With no air alarms or blackouts, the players were free to compete with no disruption. The games were also streamed live on YouTube for parents, friends and loved ones to watch.
"These were the first matches since 24 February 2022 for many taking to the ice on this important day for Ukraine,” said Ukrainian Hockey Federation Sports Director Yuriy Kyrychenko. “Step by step, hockey is beginning to get back on its feet. Our task is to preserve as much of the country’s hockey infrastructure – including its players and coaches – as possible. I would like to mention our partners, in particular Infront, thanks to whom children from Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and other cities in Ukraine who have remained in their hockey homes have had the opportunity to compete against each other."
Sport provided a glimpse of hope in a region which hopes to return to some sense of normality in the near future.
As a long-term partner of international ice hockey, Infront made its 2022 annual charity donation to the UHD.
This was to support the UHD in their aim to sustain Ukrainian Hockey during this difficult time and keeping Ukrainian people united in ice hockey. The UHD is preserving and re-establishing national development programs. 40% of all hockey arenas have been either seized or destroyed during the war, with the remaining struggling to support training for hockey schools and teams.
The UHD provides safety, support and professional training for players and staff from youth level to professionals. It also hopes to aid arena restoration and development and has an overall fundraising goal of USD 15.6m.