The priorities of the Ukraine Reconstruction Fund include not only the restoration of social infrastructure, but also the support of the younger generation, as the future of our country depends on it.
That is why in the summer of 2023, the Ukraine Reconstruction Fund launched the project “World Athletes for Children of Ukraine”. Its main goal is to improve the conditions of education and training for young athletes.
One of those who supported the Fund’s initiative is Ivan Nonka, head of the NONKA football school (Zaporizhzhia).
According to Viktoriia Korsunova, Head of the URF Kyiv office, the Fund and the football school have much in common in their vision of the country’s development vector. Among the projects they are currently working on are the construction of modern football fields in Zaporizhzhia and the creation of an interactive museum of folk crafts.
This interview is an introduction to the philanthropist Ivan Nonka and his team.
– Ivan Oleksandrovych, how did you come up with the idea of creating the NONKA football school, and what goals do you set with this project?
– The creation of a football school is a dream that has been realized since childhood to play football professionally. Back in 1998, my brother and I dreamed of becoming famous football players and even organized a village team.
But, unfortunately, the harsh realities of the 90s did not allow our dreams to become reality…
The NONKA Football School is a social project that confidently proves that, no matter what – time, revolutions, defaults, wars – with perseverance, resilience and endurance, everything is possible, you just need to believe and act confidently!
– You have chosen the path of a patron of sports, particularly football. What is your main motivation?
– I had to start somewhere… To realize a new business, a dream and experience of playing in a “backyard” team are not enough. So I decided to try myself in this “role”. It’s been 2.5 years since the first trial lesson…
And now we can clearly see on the example of the NONKA football school that all the efforts of our administration to take young people off the streets and open the door to professional sports, teach them teamwork, and raise their social and cultural spirit were worth all the effort and money invested.
The NONKA Football School is just the beginning! This is the first step towards contributing to helping our society to raise the next generations of Ukrainians in a proper, motivated and healthy way.
– As far as we know, the football school is not your only good deed, and you are currently planning to implement joint projects with the Ukraine Reconstruction Fund?
– Yes, indeed. Our activities cover a variety of public initiatives aimed at educating young people to love their country and reviving ancient traditions. One of the priority aspects of our work is the revitalization and popularization of cultural values through Cossack football and sports.
Together with the Ukraine Reconstruction Fund, we have planned a number of projects aimed at developing infrastructure for children and youth. In particular, in Zaporizhzhia, we intend to build three football fields that will become centers for active training and sports competitions.
In addition, thanks to the Fund’s support, we are actively working on creating a museum of our region. In this museum, we plan to present a wide range of folk crafts that reflect various aspects of our ancestors’ lives. From Cossack affairs and everyday life to pottery, blacksmithing and agriculture. Each exposition, equipped with modern video and audio equipment, will invite visitors on a fascinating journey into the past, full of traditions and cultural values of our region.
We also have several other joint initiatives with the Fund that help develop our community and support children. For example, programs to help children near the frontline. We understand that these children are going through difficult times, so it is important to provide them not only with material but also with psychological support. By providing them with attention and resources, we try to maintain their stability and emotional well-being.
I would like to note that in times of war, when the country’s financial resources are limited, support from partners and benefactors is very important to us. That is why we are sincerely grateful to the Ukrainian Reconstruction Fund, its founder Pavlo Kostyuk and the head of the Fund’s Kyiv office, Viktoriia Korsunova, for their support. The Foundation’s assistance allows us to continue our activities and make positive changes in the lives of our children and the community as a whole.
– You work quite closely with young people. What aspects of this work do you consider key?
– Undoubtedly, every aspect is important in working with young people.
First, it contributes to the physical development of young people. Secondly, we focus on tempering the character, forming the will and consciousness of a Ukrainian citizen.
Another interesting area is teaching young people communication and friendship, which is very important in today’s gadget-saturated world.
But the most important thing for me is that this work allows young people to go out into real life and apply the skills they have learned.
– We hope that your pupils will be able to represent Ukraine as a sporting and developed country with dignity. How realistic is this and what is needed for this?
– Of course, this is a huge task, but we are striving for it and believe in its achievement.For our athletes to be effective, it is very important for us to have stability in several areas.Consistency in training, consistency in the development of strategies and tactics, in improving psychological stability and mental readiness, adequate financial support, expanding social contacts and creating a network of partnerships – all these areas are important and aimed at ensuring that our team develops effectively and dynamically.