The All-Ukrainian Association of Professional Football Players (AUAPFP) is one of three player associations nominated for the 2023 FIFPRO Union Impact Award. The award recognises the best initiative of a union that is improving the wellbeing of professional footballers in their country.
During the FIFPRO general assembly on 21-24 November in South Africa, all member unions will vote to decide which of the three finalists will win the 2023 Union Impact Award.
The war in Ukraine has resulted in 24 of the nation’s 72 professional football clubs having to cease operations. According to AUAPFP, this led to hundreds of professional footballers losing their job, income, and ways to support themselves and their family.
Despite the challenges caused by the war, the union organised a training camp for out-of-contract players to give as many as possible the opportunity to continue training, maintain match fitness, and potentially extend their career with another club.
Players who are a member of the union and a free agent were allowed to join the camp. The union organised a total of ten training sessions to help players improve their fitness. This group of players also participated in the locally respected Makarov Winter Tournament, where the team played five matches. The union also arranged education sessions in the camp.
AUAPFP General Manager Roman Morozov said: “We managed to organise everything for players at the highest level: a modern training complex, a qualified and experienced professional coaching staff, quality food, and accommodation for players who lived too far away from the training ground.”
The event strengthened the reputation of the player association, as the AUAPFP showed that it could organise events under extreme, high-pressure conditions experienced during war, such as air raids, power outages, and disruptions in supply.
Together with the other activities the union initiated after war broke out in the country, it helped increase the membership of the AUAPFP and the players’ trust in the organisation.
In total, 29 of the 32 players who attended the camp joined professional clubs. Immediately after the training camp 19 of them received invitations from clubs, while another 10 found employment within a month after it finished.
Morozov said: "The players appreciated the help of our association and FIFPRO. They believed in themselves again, and in their own abilities. Most importantly, many of them received invitations to trials from professional clubs. We achieved the main goal of the project and we are proud of that."