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Everyone can be a champion: Basketball gives equal opportunities both for sportsmen and vulnerable children

Kyiv, 8 August 2013 - Today the U16 Championship Men Ukraine 2013 – European basketball championship started with a master-class held by the leading basketball players for orphans and children with special needs.

The participants of the master class were children with disabilities, orphans, children from crises families and children affected by violence. Through this initiative, organizers and partners of the championship attract society’s attention to the importance of advocating children’s rights, in particular the most vulnerable children, and to the important role of sports and basketball in particular in the process of these children’s rehabilitation.

Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Vilkul, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ukraine Representative Yukie Mokuo, Minister of Youth and Sports Ravil Safiullin and Tournament Director Markiyan Lubkivskyi greeted the children, the participants of the championship and guests of the event.

“We have to take care of those who need our help most of all. Over 5,000 orphans, children deprived of parental care, children from poor and large families, and children with special needs will be visiting the Matches of the European Championship free of charge. We are implementing this social initiative jointly with the Children’s Fund UNICEF, the Federation of Basketball of Ukraine, local organizational committee “Eurobasket 2015” and various charity organizations,” said Vice-Prime Minister Oleksandr Vilkul during a meeting with young basketball fans before the opening of U16 European Basketball Championship.

He noted that such events are the part of the broader initiative aiming to help children, first of all those who need particular attention from authority and society. “Supporting of those children needs the special approach. In Ukraine a lot has been already achieved in this area. Still, even more should be completed, because we are talking about children who are the future of our country.”

United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ukraine Representative Yukie Mokuo pointed out that the European Championship will assist in the popularization of basketball in Ukraine.

"I am very happy that UNICEF Ukraine becomes a partner of the U16 European Championship. It will help us to raise public awareness on the importance of the protection of children’s rights, their physical education and cultural development. Our partnership will focus on the promotion of basketball along with the importance of the protection of children’s rights, especially those who are the most socially vulnerable. We have invited these vulnerable children today to enjoy the first game of the championship and to participate in master classes with famous Ukrainian basketball players. I hope that the U16 Championship will encourage more children to do sport and develop their physical and spiritual skills.”

Eurobasket 2015 Tournament Director Markiyan Lubkivskyi noted: “I am sure that European Championship U16 will give plenty of pleasant emotions for viewers in tribunes, but also inspire children and youth to play sports, particularly basketball. We – organizers consider this as the important heritage of the Championship held in Ukraine. I hope that this event will become a successful beginning of our future cooperation with UNICEF prior to Eurobasket 2015. Together we will children’s sport.”

President of Federation of Basketball in Ukraine and also famous Ukrainian basketball player Olexander Volkov addressed young devotees: “Dear children, today you will see young boys on this ground who are just a bit older than you are. You are going to watch the game which attracted me in mychildhood and has become the sense of my life. I am sure that today`s game will encourage you as well. Basketball develops not only muscles, but thinking, communication skills and willpower too. This is a game of smart people. Sport teaches you to overcome different life challenges, to be organized and disciplined; it teaches us confidently follow our dreams. I can say that when I was your age I used to train at 7 a.m. and afterwards went to school. So I urge you to always remember that sports and a healthy lifestyle are vital components of person’s harmonious development.”

During the official opening of the championship a dream of many children was fulfilled. They went out at a real court and played basketball with the stars of the Ukrainian sport during the master-class: Hryhoriy Huzhnyak (4-times champion of Ukraine, Champion of Lithuania, ULEB Cup finalist), Dmytro Baselevskyi (Ukraine player of the year in 1997), Olena Vergun (Champion of Europe in 1995) and Lyudmyla Nazarenko (Champion of Europe in 1995).

Famous Ukrainian basketball player Dmytro Baselevskyi talked to children about basketball: “Life happens to be tough and unfair from time to time. It is not that easy to prove that you are worthy… Yet, not in basketball, since only here it can be proven directly – you are who you have created yourself. You train yourself, become a real basketball player and you can make your dream come true. Play basketball and you will make yourself better despite of your unfortunate fate!”

After the exciting basketball master-class children received presents and moved to the viewer’s hall to enjoy basketball battle between the Ukrainian and Latvian teams.


U16 European Championship is the European Basketball Championship among the national teams of players under the age of 16. The Championship was first held in 1971 under the name of the European Cadet Championship and was held every two years. Since 2004, the Championship has been held annually. The national team of the Former Yugoslavia holds the record of winning the Championship nine times, and the USSR national team won the title thrice. The acting U16 European Championship is the national team of Turkey.

This year, the U16 European Basketball Championship Men is to be held in Kyiv Palace of Sports from August 8 to August 18 bringing together the16 best European teams competing for the most prestigious basketball prize. Tickets are sold online: and at the ticket office of the Palace of Sports. Details: Join us on Facebook and ВКонтакте.

About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997. For more information visit Join us on Twitter , Facebook and ВКонтакте.

Yulia Yurova, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 245 2450,
Sergiy Prokhorov, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 245 2450,



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