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Tireless Dmytry Scherbakov keeping grassroots squash alive in Ukraine

This article is adapted from one first published by Squash Facilities Network. Read the full article here.

Over two years after his country was invaded, Ukrainian Squash Federation President Dmytry Scherbakov is still finding ways to bring squash to communities around Ukraine.

Scherbakov, a former professional basketballer turned Ukraine national squash player, began building Ukraine’s squash infrastructure from the ground up 15 years ago, establishing 44 courts nationwide through Sport Life Fitness Centres.

Scherbakov attributes this growth to the pay-as-you-play model used at Sport Life, coupled with the affordable ‘Squash Guest’ card which allows squash players access to courts at any Sport Life Fitness Centres in Ukraine.

Now, there are 74 squash coaches across all their club locations, many of whom are former tennis, badminton or football coaches who Shcherbakov has re-trained. They each forge links with local schools and businesses to get new players through the doors.

Each month, different local groups are invited to the club to pick up a racket for the first time, with many opting to stay on for casual play or for coaching.

“Squash isn’t a game people like to watch [in Ukraine], it’s a game people like to play. So I invite them to Sport Life Fitness and get them to play,” Scherbakov explains.

He adds that the progress made at the junior level – Ukraine made its WSF World Junior Championship debut in August 2022 – has continued, though with obvious disruption.

For the last two years, Scherbakov has offered free squash coaching for over 100 school children at three academies in Kyiv, with courts and rackets donated free by Sport Life Fitness and coaches funded by the Ukrainian Minister of Sport.

“We have tried to keep developing squash in Ukraine as the war continues. We do what we can. Life has to continue. I have three more projects I want to complete too.

“At this moment, we can try to develop facilities, get more people playing squash and train more kids. But we live day by day. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Every day there are bomb attacks. But as federation president I will do my best for the future of squash in my country.”

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