In my native Donetsk region, 66 stadiums, sports complexes, swimming pools, and ice arenas turned into ruins. It hurts for Bakhmut. We all remember what a powerful sports and rehabilitation base there was before the full-scale war. To some extent, Bakhmut replaced occupied Donetsk for us, the best athletes moved there. They had great prospects for development, but the Russian invasion crossed them out.
All this will have to be restored. It is already clear that our own resources will not be enough and we will have to attract partners. We need serious promotion at the international level of issues of sports reconstruction, so that we do not end up in the ashes after the end of the war.
In the same way, the survival of Ukrainian sports today can no longer rest 100% on the shoulders of the state. The post-Soviet paternalistic model has finally outlived its usefulness and will have to be abandoned.
Instead, the importance of private investment, sponsorship and patronage will grow. Let me remind you that back in 2021, the parliament adopted a law on sports patronage – this is the first such “framework” document. Now it is important to harmonize tax and customs legislation with it, so that potential patrons have incentives to support sports. This should be done as soon as possible.
Additional resources even in full-scale war
Using the example of the Athletics Federation of Ukraine (FLAU), we can see how additional resources can be attracted even in conditions of a full-scale war.
We are looking for and finding partners who help us. In particular, they agreed on a partnership with the IT business, whose representatives will provide support in the digitalization of the federation’s operational processes and software development.
A well-known sports clinic has become our medical partner. She will conduct examination and treatment of athletes, educational activities and consultations for FLAU medical specialists.
They signed a contract with a world-famous sports brand on long-term cooperation. In particular, about joint marketing measures for children’s and youth competitions.
One of the leading sports publications became a media partner of FLAU. We joined our efforts to popularize sports and attract the younger generation to athletics.
This is far from a complete list of what has been done over the past six months. We hope that there will be more to come.
Therefore, sports organizations should focus more on partnership with the private sector. And in this they should be helped by the relevant ministry, as a coordinator and communicator. It is necessary to clearly realize that in the coming decades the state and communities will not have extra funds for sports.
Sport remains important
This does not mean that the already existing sports infrastructure should decline and fall apart. At least minimal measures should be taken to support it. Also, during the war, further popularization of sports and strengthening of our sports capabilities is needed.
First, in this way we promote Ukraine in the world and bring the truth about Russian aggression to millions of people. Every victory of a Ukrainian athlete at an international competition draws attention to Ukraine. The case of our saber player Olga Harlan, who did not shake the hand of a Russian woman, demonstrated the effect of world solidarity and helped our country.
We need as many such cases as possible. It will soon be two years since the great war has been going on, and not everyone abroad is watching the events as closely as at the beginning. But this did not make our losses any less painful, and Russian crimes did not become any less barbaric.
Ukrainian athletes carry out powerful advocacy work for the benefit of Ukraine. Not just to win and get a medal, but also to declare a civic position. This strengthens the international pro-Ukrainian coalition and brings our joint victory closer.
Here, surprisingly, it is worth looking at the actions of our enemy. The Russian Federation has been investing huge amounts of money in sports for decades, and even now it is having an effect. They conduct successful anti-Ukrainian propaganda through athletes and sports organizations.
Secondly, the development of sports is the way to the health of the nation. And only a healthy nation can defeat the enemy in the long run and defend its independence. I think that people who are faced with recruiting in the Armed Forces today perfectly understand the disappointing indicators of the state of health of Ukrainians. And this problem undermines our defense capability. Therefore, sports and a healthy lifestyle will make us all stronger.
So, “drones instead of stadiums” is correct from the point of view of prioritizing the spending of state and local funds. But this does not mean a complete rejection of sports as such. On the contrary, the strategy of our survival for years and decades should place sports as one of the cornerstones of building a sustainable, competitive and developed Ukraine.
Lada BulakPeople’s Deputy from the “Servant of the People” party, specially for UP.Zhyttia
Publications in the “View” section are not editorial articles and reflect exclusively the author’s point of view.