EDGA golf project with Ukraine aims to help casualties of war

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The Ukraine Golf Federation is working with EDGA (European Disabled Golf Association) in a new project to introduce people with a disability, including specifically those affected by the ongoing war, to the rehabilitation and health benefits provided by golf.

Doctors and physiotherapists from Ukraine and PGA coaches are being trained by EDGA, with funding from The R&A, to offer golf to the nation’s citizens who have been injured or have a medical impairment/condition.

Called the ‘FREEPEOPLE EDEM Project’ – after the Edem Resort Medical and Spa in Lviv, Western Ukraine – it is hoped that those who have suffered the trauma in the military conflict can, through golf and using the Edem Resort, find “new horizons of hope and joy”.

In recent years, golf had been growing in the Ukraine. The Ukraine Golf Federation is one of 36 member countries of EDGA, and its golf coaches and administrators have been progressively attempting to grow participation for new and existing players with a disability.

Recognising the potential benefits of golf and sport, the Federation has been committed to developing its coaching infrastructure for the good of new players. Due to changing international circumstances, an online coaching development conference organised by EDGA became the catalyst for the new FREEPEOPLE EDEM Project.

Thanks to the provision of a Warsaw-based workshop by Polish golf authorities (Studio Gwiazdzista), the first training session for Ukrainian medical professionals, partnered with Polish golf coaches, took place in early November. The ‘EDGA3’ training is part funded by The R&A and will enable golf to be delivered in a simple, engaging and fun way to people of all abilities.

The Edem Resort Medical and Spa in Lviv will be the welcoming point for golfers with a disability in need of rehabilitation or physiotherapy. The ‘medical retreat’ will be a haven away from conflict, where those who have been caught up in the war can enjoy the nature and peace of a golf course, the health and social benefits of the game, and with the help of the project’s PGA coaches, improve as golfers as well.

Mark Taylor, EDGA’s Head of Development who ran the training workshop in Warsaw, said: “We are all aware of the terrible situation in Ukraine – so identifying golf and putting golf into the hands of medical professionals as a rehabilitation option for people who may have suffered injury or trauma could be life changing. Working with some of the Ukraine’s leading medical professionals over these two days has been truly amazing. They already possess their extensive expertise and are now ‘golf ready’ to introduce experiences to a new audience.”

Veronika Rastvortseva, Spokesperson for the “FREEPEOPLE EDEM” Project, said: “We have experienced through our EDGA training the difference golf makes to people who have been affected by conflict. At the seminars, we invited people with multiple disabilities, some incurred on the front line in previous conflicts, who discovered how golf could become a game for them. These people never thought they could play sport again, experience the emotion of success and failure, or simply, spend time with family, friends and colleagues pursuing a healthy activity that supports their well-being.

“The EDEM Project will now provide a medical retreat and golf course to support people affected by the war in the Ukraine and this can be of huge, lasting benefit. Golf brings people outdoors, it encourages movement, social interaction and challenges cognitively. But perhaps in the main, golf helps heal mentally, pushing mind space into new horizons of hope and joy and taking us away from the places our mind has occupied, places of fear and loss and anger. Importantly, golf brings the family together. A wonderful activity for all generations! We are so proud to have the support of EDGA to use their extensive knowledge and expertise around golf for the disabled to embed golf into the framework of rehabilitation.”

Oleksii Bashkirtsev, Head Doctor of the Edem clinic, said: “The physical therapists of the Edem Сlinic have many years of experience but they faced new challenges in providing rehabilitation to people who have suffered injuries in the military conflict. Thanks to the completed EDGA course in Warsaw, our specialists will use this knowledge in our golf rehabilitation programme to restore the functioning of the musculoskeletal system for victims of war, helping them to recover their endurance, speed and strength qualities. Using golf learning, such specialist rehabilitation can ensure full recovery of the body’s self-regulation processes and return people affected by the war in Ukraine to their previous quality of life.”

Tony Bennett, President of EDGA, wished to extend a “huge thank you” to the Polish Golf Union and the PGA of Poland which have been so supportive in providing this opportunity and training facility to their neighboring country.

Golfers in Ukraine will be further supported by EDGA as a beneficiary of a project run by DP World, in which used golf balls are collected and redistributed to worthy causes.

EDGA seeks to change the lives of people with disability through the power of golf. The objective is to help 500,000 people with disability to try the game.

EDGA is an international non-profit association, made up of 36 National Golf Federations, and provides advice, guidance and standards to leading golfing bodies, including The IGF, The R&A, and the European Tour Group.

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