During CAFE’s recent visit to Kyiv, we had the opportunity to meet Andriy Zagrebelko, a deaf employee of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU).

Andriy has been working for the FFU on an ad hoc basis for the past 12 years. Starting as a groundsman, Andriy has developed the skills required for him to become a football pitch specialist and he now works full-time for the Federation.

The FFU explains that Andriy’s employment is thanks to the legacy left by UEFA and CAFE’s Captains of Change project.

The UEFA Captains of Change programme was created to encourage greater diversity within football at all levels of the game. CAFE’s project within this placed an emphasis on inclusive employment.

The aim of this project was to influence the culture within football organisations and remove negative stereotypes associated with disabled people. In order to achieve this goal, CAFE produced a toolkit for national football associations to assist them in creating an inclusive workforce. 

As part of this project, in 2015, CAFE supported the FFU in employing two disabled interns, Sergey Moskalyuk and Vladyslav Kacheniyuk.

CAFE’s Managing Director, Joanna Deagle, said, “Andriy’s employment proves the long-lasting effects of the Captains of Change project, and highlights the Football Federation of Ukraine’s commitment to Total Football Total Access to Work.”

An avid fan of the Ukrainian national team and Dynamo Kyiv, Andriy is also a successful player and competed at the European Deaf Football Championships in 1991.

When asked what is needed to ensure widespread inclusive employment, Andriy explained that it is dependent on two things, “the open-mindedness of the employer, and the desire of the disabled candidate”.

CAFE congratulates Andriy on his appointment, and the FFU on supporting an inclusive working environment.

After all, in the words of Andriy, “the love of football transcends disability”.

A version of this article is also available in Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Polish, French, German and Portuguese.

Published 22/11/2017