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Courage to play - courage to win: what will be the new volleyball season in Ukraine

The new Ukrainian volleyball season will officially start on September 22. The men's Super League-Budinvest teams will start first. And at the end of the current month, the women's teams of the Super League-Dmart will compete.

The Championship of Ukraine will have a clearly expressed concept: "the courage to play - the courage to win." And all the matches of the competition will be held in the Chernivtsi sports complex "Malenkyi Paryzh".

How did the concept come about and what does it mean? Why will the championship take place in Chernivtsi and what innovations await us? How many teams will play in the elite divisions and what are the regulations? About this and other things in our material.  

Courage is the cornerstone of the concept of the championship of Ukraine 

In this difficult time for the country, everyone is doing everything possible to speed up the victory and root Ukraine on the world stage. Sports is one of the main directions of the victory front. It expresses all the values that are leading Ukraine to triumph right now: courage, determination, fortitude, unity, teamwork, the ability to act together and rely on each other, to fight until the last second and the final whistle. We are pleased to announce this year's volleyball championship in Ukraine, which will begin on September 22 in the city of Chernivtsi. This is the first volleyball championship of such a high level for our country. 

Volleyball, as a type of sport, has long existed in our country, as has the Volleyball Federation. However, it is not popular among our citizens. The Professional Volleyball League of Ukraine (PVLU) sets an ambitious and achievable goal - to popularize this sport among the youth of Ukraine and bring it to the international level. Volleyball should be included in the TOP-3 game sports in terms of popularity in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Volleyball Championship 2022/23 has a clearly expressed concept: "the courage to play - the courage to win." The full-scale war shifted the emphasis, and many things that once had a special meaning for Ukrainians turned out to be out of date. This list also includes sports. But the Ukrainian people, with their battles and victories, their humanity and mutual aid, their activity, and laughter in the face of the enemy, demonstrated to the whole world the most important essence of Ukrainians - courage. It was courage that became the cornerstone of the Ukrainian volleyball championship concept in the 2022/23 season.

At the same time, PVLU joined the global information company of the Ministry of Digital, "Courage", launched in the spring. The heroes of the advertising campaign were the young faces of Ukrainian volleyball: Daria Makarova from the Ukrainian U-17 national team and Eduard Shterek from the Ukrainian U-18 national team. They were not chosen by chance, because these young people are the future of our volleyball.

- In May, the Ministry of Digital created the largest promotional campaign for Ukraine "Bravery - Courage". This campaign is already known all over the world. This is what inspired us. It was courage that became the fulcrum for the concept of the 2022/23 Ukrainian Volleyball Championship. The courage to play, the courage to win. After all, it is a great courage for every athlete to stay in Ukraine, to continue playing at home, - explained the president of the Professional Volleyball League of Ukraine, Volodymyr Dubinsky.

The basis for future seasons

War should not be a reason to abandon the most important values, because they seem to be out of date. On the contrary, even during the war, especially during the war, it is important to continue to develop all sports assets. After all, sport is the basis of a strong, healthy, and invincible nation, which, after a military victory, has to rebuild and develop our country. 

According to Volodymyr Mykhailovych, already after the full-scale invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine, he gathered the presidents and representatives of Super League clubs to discuss the holding of future competitions:

- I was very impressed that they all agreed to host the championship of Ukraine. Everyone understands the importance of holding the championship right now because it gives hope and inspires them not to give up. We are now laying the groundwork for future seasons and trying to preserve what already exists. Yes, of course, Zaporizhzhia "Orbita" and Yuzhne "Khimik" will miss this season for objective reasons, because they are in a very difficult situation, but all the others gathered their strength and started preparing for the championship. Several new teams were also added, such as SC Balta and Volynskyi Krai-University, for which we are very grateful to their presidents and sponsors. We also managed to include two women's youth teams U-15 and U-17 in the championship, which is very important for the formation of the future of Ukrainian volleyball.

Sponsorship of the championship of Ukraine is the result of long and consistent work

Despite the difficult times, PVLU managed to attract sponsors who agreed to invest money in sports.

- This is not a miracle, but the result of long and consistent work, in particular with partners. This year, the title sponsor in the Women's Super League will be the company "Dmart". She has been supporting basketball and volleyball in Ukraine for many years.

Budinvest-Engineering will be the title sponsor in the Men's Volleyball Super League. For them, it is a social responsibility and a mission to be with the country and be a social sector in this difficult time. About 10 different companies will support the championship of Ukraine this year, despite the war and the difficult economic situation for all of us, and this is impressive because this is true unity, - said Volodymyr Dubinsky. 

Dmart is a modern supermarket that will pleasantly surprise even the most demanding customers. Budinvest is one of the largest construction and road companies in Ukraine.

Sponsors who support the matches: "ENERGOCENTER PLUS", "UNITED ENERGY RESOURCES", "Smart Bonus", "EDS", "WINDOW SERVICE", "Mikasa" - the official ball of the competition, advertising agency "THE BEST", " DIVISPORT VOLLEYBALL" - watch volleyball, "DKids" - the country of childhood. 

The matches of the championship of Ukraine will be held in the city of Chernivtsi 

This year, all championship games of the women's Super League-Dmart and the men's Super League-Budinvest will take place in the city of Chernivtsi. According to the requirements of martial law, they will be held without spectators. But the very fact of holding the championship in a warring country is an expression of incredible courage. General Director of the Professional Volleyball League of Ukraine Andrii Lopa spoke about the chosen city:

- We chose the city of Chernivtsi because it meets our requirements: it has infrastructure facilities capable of hosting the number of teams that we have planned for one round. A total of 8 teams will be in one city at the same time. And it also meets the requirements of our security, which are prescribed in regulatory documents in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine.

We received a letter from the Ministry with additional requirements regarding the holding of the championships in Ukraine. There is a certain list, including the availability of shelter. It should be at a distance of no more than 500 meters from the venue of the competition, etc. They can be found on the website of the Ministry. We observe and fulfill all conditions. A working group was also created, which consists of representatives of the national police, the State Emergency Service, the regional board of youth and sports, and our organization, which passed and inspected all these premises, drew up the relevant act, and submitted it to the Chernivtsi regional military administration to permit us to hold the championships. We are expecting this permission in the coming days.

Matches will be refereed by the 10 best referees in Ukraine 

Andrii Stepanovych also added that the championship matches will be refereed by the best referees in the country. And the newest referee video recording system will help them in this:

- This issue was quite simple to solve. We turned to the arbitration commission of the Ukrainian Volleyball Federation with a request to provide us with the TOP-10 referees for the Ukrainian championship. And they gladly responded. 7 referees of the international category and 3 referees of the national category will referee the matches. All of them are quite experienced. We have quite a big advantage of their work in international matches, as well as in the work of the video replay system, which we are introducing this season at championship games. And all financial issues related to their payment are taken over by PVLU.

For Ukraine, this is an innovation, of course. Such a system has been used in the world for a long time. This will facilitate the work of referees who will make the right decisions. A study was conducted that showed that the number of errors is cut in half. This is a revolution in Ukrainian volleyball this season. We are based on higher quality, European, and world standards of match organization. And this will allow us to increase the spectacle and minimize the number of referee errors. Because the referee is a human being, not a robot, and can also make mistakes. For this, we introduce the system. We hope that it will add quality to decision-making, and the result will be less influenced by the referee himself so that everything is fair.

Anti-doping control in volleyball

Anti-doping control is also an innovation that was launched this year by the PVLU organization together with the National Anti-Doping Center of Ukraine. All players, coaches, officials, doctors, and massage therapists pass tests, listen to courses, and lectures, and, accordingly, receive an appropriate certificate. 

- This certificate enables players and everyone else to participate in the championship. This is a kind of training because we know a lot of cases of doping, and wrong drugs in sports. I will give a small example in the history of Ukrainian volleyball: two players were disqualified for one and a half to two years for doping in volleyball. Therefore, we made the right decision to go this way. We teach, and it's never too late to learn. This encourages players to be more conscious and disciplined in this regard. By the way, we almost forgot to introduce you to the new mascot of our championships, which will be introduced this year at Super League matches. It was created to attract the younger generation to volleyball and increase the spectacle and interest of our sport, - noted Andrii Lopa. 

Regulations of the competition

The competition takes place under the patronage of the Ukrainian Volleyball Federation and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. The organizer is the Professional Volleyball League of Ukraine.

The draws of the men's Super League-Budinvest and the women's Super League-Dmart will be held according to the same schemes. Each league has 8 teams. The championship will be stolen from the regular stage and the playoffs. Regular season matches will be divided into three rounds. In each circle, there are two rounds: small and large. Teams will play two games in the small round, and three games in the big round. The team has a one-day break to recover.
The winning teams will have the right to represent Ukraine in the drawing of the CEV Cups.

Qualifying places for European Cups: champion of Ukraine, vice-champion, bronze medalist, winner of the Super Cup and Cup of Ukraine. If one of the specified teams refuses to participate, the right goes to the lower-ranked teams.

Men's teams that will be represented in the championship:

«Barkom-National Team of Ukraine U-18» (Lviv), « Epicenter-Podolyany» (Horodok, Khmelnytskyi region), VC «Prometey» (Dnipro), VSC «Law Academy» (Kharkiv), VC «Zhytychi-Polissia» (Zhytomyr), « The team of the Poltava region VC Reshetylivka» (Reshetylivka, Poltava region), VC «MHP-Vinnytsia» (Trostianets, Vinnytsia region), «Security Police-ZUNU-Dynamo» (Ternopil) — the debutant of the Super League-Budinvest.

Women's teams that will be represented in the championship:

SC "Prometey" (Kamyanske, Dnipropetrovkyi region), "Alanta" (Dnipro), SC "Balta" (Balta, Odesa region) — representatives of the Higher League will try their hand among the 8 strongest, "Halychanka- ZUNU" (Ternopil), "Volynskyi Krai-Universitet" (Lutsk) — the new team, VC "DobroDiy-Meduniversitet-ShVSM" (Vinnytsia), National team of Ukraine U-17 (2006 year of birth and younger), National team of Ukraine U-15 (2008 year of birth and younger).