With the recent announcement that the PGA of Ukraine have joined the Confederation of Professional Golf [CPG] as its newest Member Country, the signals of positive intent from both parties – to extend and grow the game of golf both in Ukraine and more globally – are there for all to see.
The CPG chatted to PGA of Ukraine Deputy General Secretary, Veronika Rastvortseva, about the association and its current goals and driving motivations for the future of the sport in Ukraine…
TB: Can you shed some more light on the PGA of Ukraine as an association? It is obviously new and relatively unknown to a lot of people…
VR: The last 9 months have been very busy for the association, with a lot of change seen. We are excited to have a dynamic and visionary new President, Vitaliy Khomutynnik, overseeing the introduction of both a new General Secretary – Volodymyr Pylypenko – and a new Board of directors. We have also expanded our resource from just 1 to 5 staff members, reflecting the increase in projects and initiatives that the Ukrainian Golf Federation is involved in.
In line with an increasing level of collaboration within the country, a new structure has been developed to help better incorporate the leading bodies and associations involved with golf in Ukraine. These include the PGA of Ukraine, 4 Committees (Sport & HcP, Women in Golf, Deaflympic & Paralympic) and other key individuals.
The main purpose of this was to give each committee or individual member a more precise role to better achieve success in achieving our strategic objectives. Our focus has been on eliminating previous problems of having too much responsibility concentrated across just one or two individuals.
To give just one example of how these changes work in practice: after signing the Women in Golf Charter we immediately created a Women in Golf Committee. Each of the 6 female members now have a defined role, covering a range of initiatives including promotion of junior golf amongst girls and spreading the sport to different locations. While there is much work to do, we are now on a much more sound footing with the system, and are better protected from the loss or absence of a member of staff.
TB: What sort of numbers is golf working to at the moment in Ukraine?
VR: Presently we have over 400 golfers but this number is constantly growing, generally distributed across Ukraine’s 5 golf clubs and 3 centres with golf-simulators. We are also working closely with each to establish playing opportunities and tournaments.
We are very proud to be working with and partnering to a number of global golf organisations, in order to fully represent their interest in Ukraine as well. Thee include European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA), obviously the CPG, European Golf Association (EGA), the International Golf Federation (IGF), The R&A and others, all of which hold the aim of developing the game and widening participation across youth, women and people with disabilities. Using the specific context of our role within the CPG as a member, we have instigated teaching and certification of golf coaches (Golf Coaching Framework) and have joined the CPG programme ”Parents in Golf”.
These actions all impact on both the quality and quantity of participants in golf, and the Ukrainian Golf Federation is planning to take these developments further to make the game available for everyone.
TB: What are the key goals of the organisation for Ukrainian golf over the next 5 years?
VR: This is very much in line with our strategic plan, where we hope to give all areas of golf equal and considerable attention. Disabled golf, Women in Golf, our coaching pathway for PGA members, national team development and support for our increasing number of clubs and facilities will all be provided with support and assistance from our Federation’s offices. We have started from a low number of golfers and coaches and the plan is not simply to increase the numbers but to do so whilst making known to our public the great values, standards and traditions that golf has to offer. It is the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey and it is wonderful to be a part of.
As part of our strategic plan, the coaching pathway and the development of our own coaches here in Ukraine is of huge important to us. Because of the generous support of The R&A, through their National Body Development Grant, we now have time and resource to spend on this particular strand of our development. Our own internal coach education support at training camps and at tournaments, plus the CPG programmes that will begin in September, should see us well placed to provide practical and theoretical support for Ukraine’s PGA members.
We enjoyed a very strong start to the support for the National Coaching framework, with an excellent camp in Turkey from 20-28 February. Three coaches and our Consulting Coach, David Kearney, spent the preceding weeks planning an effective camp which would deliver coaching opportunities and learning experiences for the coaches involved, with feedback on an individual basis.
TB: Why is being a part of the Confederation of Professional Golf important?
VR: Education, in all walks of life, gives us a splendid opportunity to reach our goals, both professionally and personally. As we embarked on year 1 of our strategic plan, we looked to align with a strong educational partner and are thus delighted to be working with CPG Director of Education and Development, Martin Westphal, and the entire team at the organisation. Our aim, with the help of CPG, is to provide a world class education system for our PGA professionals. We know this will take time, a lot of energy and vision to establish but the Federation knows that the growth of golf in the country is in many ways dependent on the quality of coaching that we have, the facilities available, and the passion and enthusiasm that our professionals instil in the golfing population right across Ukraine.
Along with the CPG, the UGF is excited to be partnering with The University of Physical Education Kiev (NUPPES). This is a highly promising collaboration that will enable expansion of the UGF/PGA of Ukraine coaching plan. It will aim to develop the Golf Education programme for college students wishing to play college golf but not necessarily having the opportunity to travel to the USA to do so. The programme will commence in September 2021 and students will be invited from all over Eastern Europe to enrol in a 4-year college degree programme. This will include improving their golfing skills, and they will be expected to take part in the R&A tour.
TB: Your thoughts and feelings that you have finally joined the CPG?
VR: This marks a great step forward for us. It is wonderful to be a part of a community that has the growth of the game and development of educational programmes at the heart of its function. But as important, it acts as a motivator for us and as a catalyst to work even harder so we can be judged alongside the best in the world and hold our heads high. We have looked from the sideline for a while, but now we are at the table, we also hope to be able to contribute to the conversation. We are ambitious in Ukraine and keen to learn and grow. We are confident our energy and motivation, combined with acquisition of new skills and knowledge thanks to our association with the CPG, will be a winning formula.
All the initiatives undertaken by the UGF are with the strategic support of the Golf Development team at The R&A. Their support in helping us develop golf for all has been unwavering and we are very appreciative. And now with bodies like The R&A and the CPG partnering and supporting The Ukrainian Golf Federation, we are confident we will reach our strategic goals.