[TD]EU Leagues: Ukrainian League Of American Football - ULAF


Football in Ukraine is rapidly developing and, hopefully soon - we may see some of the Ukrainian teams competing in European regional leagues.  ULAF just celebrated its first birthday, so we talked to Maksym Shylo, ULAF president, about the league and teams in Ukraine.

Beginnings

Officially, our league was formed January 16, 2016. Before that, all teams were playing under the aegis of NFAFU, which stands for National Federation of American Football in Ukraine. President of the National Federation, being a politician who had nothing in common with American football at all, was only advertising himself. All teams were forced to take care of everything. There was no help or teams' support from the Federation.

Because of such inactivity of the Federation the national team was disbanded, which was a great loss for our players. Also, the local board of referees was extremely close to collapse. We were realizing that NFAFU was not enhancing American Football in Ukraine, but killing it instead.

After the report conference that took place in December 2015, where all the work done by NFAFU was discussed, all teams unanimously decided to stop any collaboration with NFAFU. As a result, in January 2016 the Ukrainian League of American Football (ULAF) was formed, headed by Maxim Shylo. ULAF is following the principle of democracy: each team has a right to vote, and all decisions are made jointly.

Now the league’s leaders with all teams are working on improvement and purchase of technical equipment for exercises. We are working on a search of some patron support (especially for exercise equipment, gears for youth and adults, and requisites for matches.) In addition, the league's administration is looking for any possibility of affordable manufacturing of that equipment. This way, each team could afford a number of training machines. Moreover, we are searching for sponsors who could help us to reduce our expenses for training camps' rent, equipment purchase and broadcasting.

Season #1

Last year was the first season for the league. The championship was formed by 19 teams. All teams were formed in three conferences. This championship was most interesting and memorable one in the whole history of the American football in Ukraine. Right before the season had started, the referees' seminar took place.

During 2016 football season the league has organized 3 games for teams from Kiev and completely covered all expenses. Also, ULAF co-organized the game in Odessa. That was the first time in the history of American football in Ukraine when a match had sponsors and professional broadcasting by a TV-channel 'Most-Video TV.' That game between Odessa Pirates and Kiev Bulldogs was visited by 1500 people. ULAF administration also helped a team from the Kharkov to organize a trip to a game in Minsk (Belarus.) In that situation, we found a sponsor who paid for a half of the trip. Later on, the league with a cooperation of clubs from Uzhgorod (Lumberjacks) and Minsk (Zubrs) organized the final game of the championship between the Lumberjacks and Bandits (another team from Kiev). Throughout the whole season, the league was helping teams from different cities in a search for investors and partners.

Because of the league, one of the teams from Kiev acquired two American coaches. Right before the season ULAF 2017 we held the referees’ seminar. Also, we organized the first American football tournament for youth in the history of Ukraine.


Media

ULAF had acquired sponsorships for two TV broadcasts and received a contract with three network channels: Sport1, Sport2, and Most-VideoTV. With the last one, ULAF managed to design a phone app. In addition, the league collaborates with two large Internet companies (‘KartinaTV’ and ‘DivanTV’.) The league found sponsors for two news programs about American football. In addition, we invited one partner who paid for one TV-program on the ‘1st National’ (main national TV-channel in Ukraine.) After that, the League found sponsors for a national team’s training camp. Once, the ULAF organized a coin toss on television.

Right now league’s administration is looking for sponsors to sew uniforms for the national team and funds for two friendly matches: one at home, and one abroad.

ULAF is collaborating with the ‘American House’ in Ukraine.


Competitions

The main competition in the league is ‘The ULAF Championship’ However, we are planning to launch women’s league as well. We want to organize women’s tournament this year and set the second youth tournament this fall. Again, we are still working on training camps for the national team and two international games. Our plan is to organize sort of an ‘all-star game’ this winter. We have a lot of strong and impressive players who might get into the national team, and I am sure they will show a great game on an international level.


People

Maxim Shylo is the president of ULAF. Being a former player of the Kiev Bandits he and his teammate formed a new club in the capital, Bulldogs. Nowadays, the team is on the 4th place on the national rate. In addition, he used to co-organize most of the games in Kiev.
Fedosova Oksana is a vice-president of the league.
Denis Chernev is the second vice-president. Manager of Kharkov’s team ‘Atlantes’.
Dmitriy Miroshnechenko- manager of the interurban development of the league. A functionary of Lvov ‘Lions’.
Glushenko Alexander is a marketing specialist of ULAF. Manager of ‘Gladiators’ from Khmelnitsky.

ULAF’s administration went with the own right concept of the popularization of the American football. We decided to advertise this sport in our country as simply as it is possible. Our goal was to drag as much attention of Ukrainians to our resources, websites, and games, as we could. Our mission is to introduce American football not as just a type of sport, but as a family event, a big sports event with a showcase. We initiated systematization and improvement of games’ organizations. A lot of effort is being put so everyone, young and adults, could enjoy those games.

The main idea was to write about American football so anyone could read about it, become interested, and keep reading. In order to achieve this goal, ULAF’s administration had to find strong media for partnerships, which ended with a success. We are cooperating with four TV-channels, two internet companies. Recently we started to work with few very famous online sport resources. Now we are preparing a TV show about the American football in Ukraine. Our main goal is to become a well-recognized brand. Thus, every day we are trying to share more news and articles in any media in the country. We are including information about teams, the league itself and basics of the American football.

Plans

There are few more tasks that we are currently working on. One is to find coaches from the United States and Europe. We are lacking well-educated specialists who know all the aspects of coaching. In additions, we are inviting international players in our league. Right now teams are not managing big funds, so we are looking for those people who is ready to help us voluntarily.

A highly important issue for us is to build a common structure for every football club: coaches, managers, marketing specialists, press-secretariats, assistants, etc.

We are looking into add a teaching process for youth teams and women’s league.

A huge problem for us is the amount of equipment for those who want to play but does not have the necessary amount of finances. That is why we are searching for any sort of a patron support.

However, last season did not last without mistakes. We were concentrating on streaming games on the YouTube. Turns out, not that many people are ready to watch sport events on YouTube, so we decided to start broadcasting on television.

That is all we could tell you about the Ukrainian League of American Football. We hope that for those of you in Europe or USA this article gave a clear picture of our league, and thank you for your attention.
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