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Ukraine is number one country in the Paralympic football, Paralympic football Ukraine’s results, interview with Ukraine’s Paralympic athletes, people with disabilities
Ukraine is number one country in the Paralympic football! Bright victory football team was the cherry on the cake of Ukraine’s record performances in Rio. For the third time in history, our players are winning the "gold" of the Paralympics, and each time get into the final. It is a fantastic result, given the fact that in comparison with London 2012, the team was renewed by 50%, and seven athletes are debutants.
Bogdan, was it your debut at the Games?
Yes, this is my first Olympics! I still do not believe in what happened. I have been going to this victory for five years. I am glad that I am in one team with Kostya Simashko who defended almost the whole tournament. During the tournament, I have got an invaluable experience.
How did Ukraine meet you after Rio?
I will say more: I remember how they saw us off! At this time more than ever: from regional Invasport offices and ending at the state level, everything was perfectly organized. Our return was magical, albeit against the background of exhaustion.
Brazil. What are your impressions of the country?
I have mixed feelings from Brazil. A cool airport of a European standard, but then you go down Rio and notice the favelas. This country is very contrast. It cannot be compared with Europe. Even when we arrived in the Olympic village, thinking that there will be a common security, we saw soldiers in full armor, even a tank and a gun standing near a stadium game.
Is the stadium "Maracana" impressive?
Honestly, the building is not better than our "Olympic," "Donbas-Arena" or "Lviv-Arena." But the atmosphere is impressive, that’s right! All the people there just adore football and sports in general.
"I will always remember my first coach"
Immediately after the arrival of the Rio I went on the anniversary of the funeral of my first coach - Konstantin Dmitrievich Pasechnik, who prematurely passed away September 23, 2015. This is the man who brought me to Invasport (Ukrainian Center for physical culture and sports for the disabled). So it turned out that on his anniversary, I came back with the biggest achievement in my career.
You have become the world's most titled team in 7x7 football. The national team of Ukraine is in the Grand Paralympic football. "Gold" of Athens, Beijing, and Rio, two silver, plus a host of titles at European and world championships. How this possible in a country where the main players of the national team are called “wooded players?”
First and foremost, it is a merit of our coaches: Sergey Ovcharenko, Yuri Timofeyev, who work for many years. The composition is changed, and the coaching staff is working, and the team always achieves good results - not lower than third place in all international competitions. Commitment, the correct approach to training and competition.
How was the national team preparing for the Paralympics?
In recent years, we had some problems with gathering together, because our main Paralympic base (one of the best in Europe) is situated in Yevpatoria; so it is in the occupied territory now. We do not have access to it. Therefore, we trained in Novomoskovsk, and in Kamyanetz-Podolsky, where people came to meet us. There were 2-3 international tournaments and training in Austria. I would like to thank Valeriy Sushkevich and Olena Zaitseva for the great support.
How did you feel after beating Brazil in its own field? Their Paralympic team is believed to be quite strong.
Brazilian team has involved new talented players. Brazil is among the world's teams, especially since they played at home, but it is far from Neimar. Brazilians could better play at home, but their team play was quite weak, despite the technical forces.
Which match of the tournament was the most difficult one? According to the account, I guess the final match was the most difficult one. Is Iran so strong?
I will say that Iran is among the five best teams in the world. The fact that he went to the Paralympics, was a surprise for everyone. This team was able to take part in the Games only because of the disqualification of team Russia. Frankly, it would be easier to play with Russia than with Iran. At the meeting, we discussed each team, including Russia and Iran should not even have to go, and walked right up to the final. We have not played with Iran for four years, they did not play at any international tournaments for different reasons. We had the opportunity to see them in full glory in the semifinals. On the 60th minute, our coaching staff has realized the Iran’s tactics and explained us how to play with them. It is difficult to single out one most difficult game; the final was difficult, because it is final.
How do you characterize Sergey Ovcharenko as a specialist? He has been heading the Paralympic team for 17 years. This is an incredible time. But the main thing is that the team during this time became the world grandee.
This man is in right place! Apparently, none of the coaches in Ukraine has more awards as a winning football coach.
Ovcharenko has literally changed the lives of many members of the team. I remember the story of Kostya Simashko, when after a terrible accident he was in despair, and Ovcharenko took him under his wing, and changed everything.
Life of everyone who was in command has changed. Ovcharenko helped psychologically and physically. Six months you spend in training camp with the team, and you need to constantly monitor the microclimate. Coach finds his approach to each.
How do all this guys get in the team?
Coaches are regularly selecting someone. Once or twice a year, Ukraine holds championships, where the coaches can see the players and select those whom they want.
How long is the career of a football player in the 7x7 category?
It all depends on the player’s training and professionalism. Here is our team captain Vova Antoniuk: he is 37 years old. and at the Paralympics he was one of the best players and scorers.
What do football players do between the big tournaments?
Even while spending the final days in Rio, we wrote a statements on vacations. Now we plan to take a break from football and competitions. Winter is a period when the Paralympic is training at home. Each coach prepares an individual training plan. Of course, Ukraine carries out a Futsal Championship, then the charges, then tournaments.
The big football means big money. And which money circulates in Paralympic football?
At the end of the competition in Rio I saw a picture with the inscription: "These people do not have Mercedes, do not buy diamonds, they are not pampered with attention; they just show the results." I want us to be evaluated like Olympians. The same swimmer without arms or legs is floating on the same level with a healthy man, and he is estimated three times lesser.
What are the most important challenges for the Paralympic team today? Infrastructure? Finance? Players?
The first question is infrastructure. In fact, Ukraine has only a center in western part of the country, but it is significantly inferior to Yevpatoria, which was attended not only by the athletes, but also by the ordinary people (for rehabilitation). Recently, Valeriy Sushkevich said that there are plans to establish an appropriate facility. But this does not mean that we abandon Yevpatoriya. We will definitely bring it back.
Ukrainian team has dedicated all the speeches and all the medals of the Paralympic Games to the ATO soldiers! When we went there, we wanted to not only to earn some money on our medical treatment, but to win many victories, to sing our anthem, and raise the flag. We wanted the world to notice us and help us somehow to deal with our "brotherly" neighbor. I wanted to somehow help our guys in the ATO area.
Do you plan to win "gold" of Tokyo at 2020 Paralympic Games, if there is this kind of sports (football 7x7)?
With regard to Tokyo, there are questions. This kind of sport (football 7x7), unfortunately, can be removed from the Paralympic Games. In 2018, everything will be decided. The nest year, the World Cup will be held in Argentina. The Paralympic football has a 4-year preparatory cycle, which is necessary to pass: Intercontinental Cup, European Championship, World Cup, and Olympic Games. So I personally won everything except the World Cup. Therefore, I plan to become a world champion in Argentina!