Refuge for Ukrainian Badminton Families.
I am sure that, like me, you have viewed the news footage of the invasion of Ukraine with absolute horror. At Badminton England we are striving to help support the people of Ukraine in any way we can. Building on our work over the last few weeks, today we are launching two new initiatives in support of the humanitarian effort, which seek to harness the collective power of the badminton community in England.
Badminton England has already been working for weeks to support our Ukrainian colleagues. It is clear that Putin values international sport as a way of legitimising the regime and so last week, working with badminton’s world governing body the BWF, we set about preventing any Russian or Belorussian players from competing in tournaments globally. Consequently, seven players were removed from the draw for our recent YONEX All England event, and thanks to the exceptional efforts of Badminton England staff and the UK Government we were able to support one Ukrainian player – Maria Ulitina – to compete after being promoted to the main draw. Maria had managed to flee the fighting in Dinipro and drive solo to Hungary. Working with our colleagues in the Ukraine Badminton Federation and the UK Government we were able to process all necessary permissions and travel to allow her to compete.
While perhaps this was a relatively small gesture given the enormity of the situation in Ukraine, we felt it was an important one. However, we are now working in partnership with the Ukraine Badminton Federation to support the wider humanitarian effort through mobilising the English badminton community:
- Refuge for Ukrainian Badminton Families: it is clear that the Government’s Homes for Ukraine initiative is a hugely positive step, but we are aware of challenges in linking Ukrainian nationals with potential hosts. We are launching an initiative that builds on the exceptional work of Suffolk Badminton coach, Helen Thornton, who has been connecting families from the badminton community in Ukraine with hosts from the badminton community in England. We will work through willing County Badminton Associations throughout the country to scale up the work and make a meaningful difference to a great number of Ukrainian families.
- Elite Ukrainian Badminton Player Support: Badminton England will also be looking to support elite Ukrainian players, working with the Ukraine Badminton Federation, to house players at our Milton Keynes National Badminton Centre.
A matter of weeks ago these people and families were just like us – picking up their rackets and heading on court to play the sport we all love. Now they are being forced to flee their homes. We hope that the above initiatives will not only give our Ukrainian counterparts a safe home but also support them to have small degree of normality, carrying on playing the sport they love and making new connections here in the UK.
Details of how to be involved will be sent out via local County Badminton Associations.
Interim Chief Executive