A few days ago Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee (NOC), headed by Serhii Bubka, presented its summary of the Ukrainian sports year. The members of the NOC mentioned the enlargement of the technical sports base among its most important achievements. Several new sports arenas have been opened, including the Ice Arena in Kyiv and the Meteor Palace of Aquatic Sports in Dnipropetrovsk.
“Next year’s construction of soccer and basketball fields, stadiums, and sports palaces will rest on the NOC’s shoulders,” noted the Minister of Family, Youth, and Sports Viktor Korzh. “The state’s support of the realization of these plans will not be insignificant, especially within the framework of preparations for Euro-2012, which envisages a number of new sports establishments. The work of enlarging the material and technical base will be easier once the NOC acquires its own premises. This will unite the efforts of all sports federations and facilitate control over their activity, because the representatives of Ukraine’s sports life will be working under the same roof.”
Besides the enlargement of the material and technical base, the minister said, the problem of training sports professionals needs to be resolved immediately. At the moment 73 institutions of higher education in Ukraine are grooming future athletes and coaches, and although 10,000 people have already graduated from these institutions, only 10 percent of them study sports. No one knows where the rest of the young professionals are disappearing. Experts blame the lack of professors, shoddily equipped sports premises where the young generation studies, and the lack of sports traditions at institutions of higher education and contacts with other Ukrainian sports organizations.
But this is not an obstacle to the popularization of the Olympic movement among the population. Clear evidence of this is the active participation of Ukrainians in several sports events that were initiated by the National Olympic Committee in 2007. According to its data, 500,000 Ukrainians — both professional runners and amateurs — took part in Olympic Racing Day, which was held on June 23 on Kyiv’s central street. During the month of September over 2.5 million pupils from 80 percent of all Ukrainian schools participated in the nationwide lesson entitled “Join the Ranks of the Olympians.”
“All these activities had a single aim: to educate the younger generation about brilliant examples of achievements in sports,” said the head of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee. “In order to popularize the Olympic movement in Ukraine, every year the NOC organizes quizzes and competitions, which are growing in importance and scale. For the first time in Ukrainian sports history athletic meets were held for miners and law-enforcement professionals. We are trying to teach the public to take care of their health.”
In their summary of the 2007 sports year, the members of the National Olympic Committee focused attention on preparing Ukraine’s Olympic Team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. As of today, 170 athletes are training for the games, their living quarters in the Olympic Village have already been chosen for them, their airline tickets have been booked, and a new sports inventory has been prepared. In Beijing the Ukrainian Olympic Team will have its own mascot — a baby stork. As for the plans for 2008, the head of the NOC emphasized the importance of establishing athletic commissions within each sports federation. In Bubka’s opinion, athletes are the most important figures in sports. They not only take part in the activity of sports structures, but with their vast experience and feeling for a certain branch of sports branch, they influence decision making.