UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin's visit to Ukraine focussed on how the country is developing its footballing infrastructures with UEFA's help.
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Ukraine’s football development was on the agenda for UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin’s visit to the country on Thursday.
Mr Čeferin met senior officials from the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF), as well as prominent Ukrainian football personalities, for talks on the evolution of footballing infrastructures in Ukraine, as well as the development of the youth and grassroots football sectors.
Discussions also centered on the construction, with the help of UEFA HatTrick assistance programme funding, of a technical centre for Ukraine’s national teams, as well as the implementation of UEFA GROW projects as part of UEFA’s support programme to help member associations realise their potential on and off the pitch.
Ukraine’s delegation for Mr Čeferin’s visit included UAF President Andrii Pavelko, UAF general secretary Yuriy Zapisotskiy, Ukraine National Olympic Committee chairman Sergey Bubka, Ukraine’s national team coach Andriy Shevchenko, and another Ukrainian football legend, 1975 Ballon d’Or winner Oleh Blokhin.
"It’s a great honour for me to meet legends of Ukrainian football and the Olympic legend Sergey Bubka,” said Mr Čeferin.
Other items discussed included Ukraine’s prospects of playing host to further major international football events on and off the field in the coming years. In 2012, Ukraine successfully co-hosted the EURO finals with Poland, with the Ukrainian capital Kyiv staging the final between Spain and Italy.
In addition, Kyiv hosted the finals of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2018.
Nurturing Ukrainian youth football is seen by the UAF as a major priority, and the work has paid handsome dividends in recent times. Earlier this year, Ukraine recorded a historic “first” for the country in capturing the FIFA Under-20 World Cup title at the finals in Poland.
"We’ve done a lot of work in developing the football infrastructure in general,” said Andrii Pavelko. UEFA assistance in recent years has helped fund, among others, the upgrading of various facilities and installations for youth, women’s and grassroots football.
UEFA GROW participation pilot projects are also underway in Ukraine. The objective is to increase participation in the country from 1% of the population playing football to the UEFA average of 3.4%.
UEFA will assess the impact of the pilots across a variety of areas (health, education, economics and player development) with a view to proving the benefits of a strong football infrastructure focused on mass participation. “Ukraine is an active member of UEFA,” said Mr Čeferin, “and is progressing in its work to develop sports infrastructures and grassroots football.”
“Now, it’s important for us to step up efforts to involve children and youngsters in football,” said Andrii Pavelko. “In this regard, I’m grateful to UEFA for starting the implementation of the GROW programme in our country.”