Child refugees who have escaped war-torn Ukraine for the safety of English villages in Sussex took part in a sporting summer camp last week.
The three day event saw children and young people come together in Ditchling at the community Cricket Club, where they were able to play football, cricket, and tennis, along with a range of fun activities.
Also on the agenda were pad-boxing and Australian Rules Football (AFL) sessions, held alongside players from the Brighton-based ‘Sussex Swans’ team.
The sports camp is part of our wider ‘Ukraine Refugee Sports Project’ which has already worked with young people in refugee camps and hostels along the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Some children came with their mothers who increasingly forged friendships themselves over the three days. The mothers were also quick to notice how the children were able to form bonds with the Coach Mentors, both male and female.
Victoria Pryimak was a mother that attended on the first day. She said: “It’s great that people are doing so much for us and this is the best way to get the children healthier – both their physical and mental health.’
“I am originally from Kharkiv and left when the bombing started. I drove for six days across Ukraine before reaching Poland, and then I wanted to come to the UK, where all I can say is thank you to the people for being so welcoming and for organising events such as this.”
The second day of the event saw the arrival of Aussie Rules Football (Europe) representatives Claudia Davey and Jessica Barratt, along with local players from Sussex Swans and the Australian Ambassador to Ukraine Bruce Edwards, who were welcomed on arrival by the children singing their national anthem.
Bruce has been a supporter of the project since linking up with TCF CEO Andy Sellins, after his embassy facilities were relocated from Ukraine to Poland. He shared: “It’s fantastic they have this opportunity, although bitter-sweet in a way, knowing what they and their families have gone through.’
“I feel there will be trauma over what has taken place for years to come, and so the rebuilding process will be a long one. Sport is a very good vehicle for this – but there are others, such as art and dancing.”
Our charity will be hosting more sports camps in the future with our next running dates taking place between 23rd- 26th August.
For details on how to get involved please contact our Head of Programmes firstname.lastname@example.org.