Sport & Fitness

Sport: for profies & amateurs

In line with local sport taste, amateur football, mini football, volleyball, basketball, ice hockey teams are numerous in all big cities. Some of them are set up at the corporations, hobby clubs, by regional principle, but some have open admission. Given they mean sport as just a hobby, they are not widely promoted and welcome new comers by the members’ endorsement. The players commonly pay symbolic fee just for a training hall rent and on some organizational expanses. Actually the ordinary Ukrainians speak very poor English, but if you manage to join up a team, comprises the white collars of the international companies, you don’t face the language problem.

You can learn more about fitness and sports locations in the subsections below.

Football

Ukraine’s football league, although not as good as the English, Spanish, Italian or German ones, is still of a high standard (when they can be bothered) and contains two teams that are a match for most teams in Europe. They are Dynamo Kiev, who plays at the Lobanovsky Stadium in the very centre of Kiev, and Shakhtar Donetsk, who play in the newly-built Donbass Arena. Another Ukrainian the national range football teams worth to be mentioned are Metallist (Kharkiv), Dnepr (Dnipropetrovsk), Chernomorets (Odessa) and Karpaty (Lviv).

Tickets to their league games are very reasonably priced – usually about UAH 50, perhaps 10 times cheaper than for a game in England. They can usually be bought at the stadium in the week before the match. For matches in the European cups – when the best teams often come to Ukraine a couple of times a year – tickets are more expensive, and are harder to get hold of.

Football is one of the most popular sports in Ukraine. Dare to say – it is all-national male passion. You can watch the amateurs’ battles on the Hydropark grounds even in winter. Non-professional football teams are more than just sport teams – these are male communities, embracing managers, self-employed, unemployed, students - anyone who addicts to this game. Ask around your local colleagues for information if you want to join it.

International Kiev Football Club – the open group on FB

They play every Sunday at 2pm Libidska str. 17.

Ice hockey

Having gone on hard time, it got sponsor support from one of the Ukrainian oligarchs last year. Thus it started its official recovery. Hockey matches are held at The Sport Palace (the main national ice ground in Kiev), at The Terminal ice stadium (Brovary, Kiev satellite), at The Ice Arena (Kiev), at ‘Drouzhba” Arena (Donetsk).  The professional hockey league comprises 8 teams from Kiev, Kharkov, Donetsk, Vinnitza, Bila Tzerkva…

Amateur hockey never died here and gets well. Its popularity affected a few leagues were set up and amateur championship is held in some Ukrainian cities. As regards Kiev, you may join teams, which contain expats as well.

Rugby

Rugby is a fairly developed sport in the Former Soviet Union. Georgia have one of the world’s top 15 teams with most of their players playing professionally in the elite league in France; Russia competed in the last World Cup, after which several of their players joined English clubs. Although Ukraine has not reached that level yet, it is not far behind. Kiev’s team is called RC Argo and they also have a senior and ladies’ squad. There are teams in Odessa (Politekhnik, the current Ukrainian champions), Ivano-Frankivsk (“Roland”), and Lviv (“Batyary”).

Currently Rugby turn to be rather exotic sport for the Ukrainians and mostly popular for the expats here. For the past six years The Ukraine Rugby Federation in cooperation with the foreign community has organized an annual international Rugby Union tournament for boys aged 12-17 years. In autumn 2012 the tournament run over the local limit and hosted teams from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Latvia. The idea got its embodiment by combined efforts of the Kyiv Rugby Union community, led by Dimitri Samoylenko, Pavel Gugiev, Anthony Nichol and David Payne. For more information go to: John Marsh Rugby

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Golf

 There are a few Golf clubs around Ukraine. The most notable are located in Kyiv region (‘GolfStream’ and ‘KievGolfClub’), Superior G.C. in Kharkiv, ‘Golf Club’ in Lugansk, ‘Golfer’ and ‘Vik&Son’ in Zaporizzhya, ‘Odesa City Golf Club’. It is much easier to find mini-golf grounds: they entertain guests of some restaurant and recreational complexes in well-developed touristic destinations.

Cricket

There used to be a Kiev Cricket Club that played at the Voskhod stadium. Between 2003 and 2010 it organised an annual tournament, with 12 teams competing from as far away as Luhansk. It doesn’t appear that the games were held in 2011, but you can get in touch with Kiev Cricket Club.

The local team plays in the weekends (kind a small tournament) in Kiev.

Contact: Divin SOmaiah (+380 98 998 68 85)

Tennis

If you prefer playing sport to watching it, Ukraine’s cities all have several tennis courts. You may find a list of tennis courts and their contact details on Web. There is no problem with the open-air lawn tennis courts in big cities – this game is rather popular with middle class. Though in cold season you should try hard to find a schedule ‘window’ at peak times. Nice quality indoor courts are concentrated at premium fitness clubs and some specialized ex-Soviet sport complexes. Amateur tennis associations hold tournaments both for adults and kids. Odessa hosts ‘Discovery’ all-Ukrainian amateur championship yearly.

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Volleyball and beach volleyball

Similar to football is one of the most popular sports in Ukraine. Despite two professional leagues here - male and female, it isn’t able to get over the national rank.  In opposite, amateur volleyball is very popular in the big cities. They have their local amateur championships – sometimes even a few in each. The teams usually rent sport halls in schools for taking trainings and meet 2-3 times a week.

Beach volleyball is well developed as mostly amateur sport too.  Hydropark beaches ‘Olmeca’ and ‘Molodezhka’ in Kiev, ‘Chkalovsky’ beach in Odessa, beaches in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizzhya host summer tournaments each season.

Matt Shalvatis’s recruiting expat volleyball players in Kiev

Contact: vbkiev@gmail.com

Basketball

In opposite to many other kinds of sport, basketball has happily developed since Ukraine got its Independence. Clubs of the professional league are relevantly sponsored by big business, hold regular championships and participate international players transfers. The national team takes part in European and World tournaments. Ukraine will host the European basketball championship in 2015.

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Swimming

Due to keeping professional swimming pools is rather expensive business, their number is extremely low. They are mostly present just in Kiev, though can be counted by one hand fingers that is inadequate to 4-million city.

Well fit-out and modern swimming pools are at the top-rank fitness centres or hotels. Commonly mass-oriented places are overcrowded at peak times. Many of them are behind the time by facilities, methods of water purification, available services etc.

The average price for a swimming session in Kiev is about UAH 50-70.

Diving

Diving centres are actually based at the swimming pools (e.g. The Palace of underwater swimming or The swimming pool of The National technical university of Ukraine (KPI) in Kyiv) or operate seasonably at the south coast of the country. Though the Black sea can’t compete with such diving Mecca’s as the Red sea or the Caribbean sea, it provides with a chance to find sink ships and airplanes, dated 18-20 centuries. Underwater hunting has its addicts both in the seas and big rivers all year-round in Ukraine as well.

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Paint ball

Paint ball is rather popular option for taking adrenaline at leisure. There are a few clubs and plenty of playgrounds in big cities. Some paint ball clubs arrange game sessions in different locations in parks in and outside big cities.

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Squash, badminton, ping-pong

Facilities for squash, badminton, ping-pong are available at the large fitness-centres or at the sport complexes at some universities and institutes. In summer the Ukrainians prefer to play open-air. The Kyiv locals like outdoor sport facilities area on Hydropark. The aged ping-pong players are usually lounging around to play for money. Think twice to agree: nevertheless the age of 50 and even more, they are obviously professionals.

Commonly equipment to rent is extra-charged. It is often old and depreciated so if you are going to do sports regularly, it is better to purchase your own.

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Fitness

Fitness entered Soviet area, including Ukraine, in 80-s of the last century. It was some kind of fashion, mostly – for female. Male noticed bodybuilding upon blockbusters with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and others starring went like a bomb on video screens. Wellness culture development has been just in the way in Ukraine. Whereas women are more conscious about keeping feet, many male prefer “beerball” with friends, especially outside of megapolises. You can meet just few joggers in the Ukrainian streets.  Male, taking up sport, may be met on football, volleyball or tennis play-ground mostly. Some of them addict body-building and visit different kind of “kachalka” (work out machines halls): from open-air free of charge grounds nearby home to professional fitness clubs. Despite the increasing number of fitness centres of all kinds the market is not saturated yet (especially outside Kiev).

Fitness centers may be classified, first of all, by their charge, additional services range, space, client service level:

  • elite & premium clubs (e.g. ‘Sofiyskiy, ‘Leonardo’, ‘Grand Prix’ or ‘The 5th element’ in Kyiv): average cost of the annual membership card is UAH 20,000-45,000;
  • business class sport clubs (e.g. ‘Kiev Sport Club’, ‘Aquarium'): UAH 9,000-18,000;
  • standard class (e.g. ‘BestFit’, ‘FreeStyle’, ‘GoldFitness’): UAH 3,000-8,000;
  • econom and lower. Settlements of this range are very small and commonly offer just fitness and/or work out classes and basic facilities. Such kind of work out gyms is called “kachalka” in Russian. In opposite to higher categories, where 3 months membership card is considered as a threshold, the econom clubs sell monthly cards (UAH 120-500) as well as the long-term.

While purchasing the long-term card, make a proper study of all conditions of the contract. Don’t neglect using the probation training (if available). The local clubs are very sophisticated in promo actions.

Foreign language is a common obstacle to communicate the coaches and ad-hoc specialists here. Whereas the receptionists and managers (in premium clubs mostly) speak English, just limited number of fitness and wellness staff has fairly good command of it.

P.S. It is a legendary fitness location in Kyiv - so-called ‘Kachalka’ on Hydropark. The open-air area equipped with various workout machines and devices attracts real bodybuilding and fitness addicts all-year round. A group of volunteers cares and develops the numerous self-made equipment. Partnership atmosphere and swimming in the Dnieper is an additional bonus. This place is not recommended for comfort-conscious.

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