“Since the full-scale war continues in our country and there are so few reasons for joy, hence the victories in the sports are these unique moments of joy and at the same time proof that Ukrainians are winners on all fronts!” said Oleksandr Svishchov, president of the Ukrainian Water Polo Federation.
Ukraine has only played in one Olympic water polo game back in 1996, and three European Championships, all before 1997. The Ukrainian Water Polo Federation, or the UWPF, is highly passionate in developing and supporting water polo in Ukraine despite the extremely difficult circumstances at present.
The Ukrainian Water Polo Men’s Championship and the Ukrainian Women’s Cup were recently held in September 16-18 in Lviv, and these tournaments are the first to take place in Ukraine since the war began.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, “all tournaments were stopped in Ukraine and most of the teams had to take refuge in and continue their practice as guests in different European countries,” states Svishchov. “We are striving to attract as much attention as possible to water polo in Ukraine.”
“Now all the teams are back in Ukraine; most of them were in different European countries during the war. The water polo club “Dynamo Lviv” was based and trained in Lviv all this period.
We’ve got the application for the tournament from water polo teams from the Eastern regions of Ukraine: Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Kharkiv. Because of the war, these teams were based and trained in European countries,” said Svishchov.
All the European Federations that Svichshov reached out to agreed to host over 300 children, all water polo players. From Germany to Lithuania, Poland, Italy, and Hungary – many European countries showed their willingness to help!
“Most of the girls are training in Germany, and we’ll probably register the Ukrainian Water Polo women’s team for the German championship. And the women’s team U14-16 will apply for the Polish championship,” said Svishchov.
The champion of Ukraine, the Water polo club “Dynamo Lviv,” will participate in the new championship with Czech, Polish, Slovakian and Ukrainian teams.
“Before the war started, a new sports pool was built in Mariupol and was supposed to open during the month. But now it is destroyed by bombs, as well as the pool of the Polytechnic Institute in Kharkiv. In Kramatorsk, the new sports pool was almost finished, and what it will be now, we don’t know,” said Svishchov.
He continues, “Our water polo teams participate in international championships and get much support from the countries. And we are very grateful for that. For example, the Hungarian water polo club hosted our U-19 for 30-days for training camps before the European championship. And Georgia, where the tournament was held, provided free accommodation and meals for the team. Also, before the U-19 women’s championship in Israel, the Netherlands provided a free base for 12 days of training!’ This is incredible.
As recently as August 2022, U-16 men’s team participated in the World championship. Greece being the host country provides significant discounts on accommodation and meals. Read that story here.
Now the Ukrainian Water Polo Federation and Ukrainian national teams participate in all European and World championships, as actively as ever before. The Federation covers all expenses for travel and training.