'Extend a helping hand': Support for Ukraine the goal of this soccer game

soccer

Atlético Ottawa has dedicated its opening match this Saturday to raise funds for Ukraine, with proceeds from ticket sales donated directly to humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. The announcement was made by Jeff Hunt, Atlético Ottawa president and strategic partner, Mayor Jim Watson and Andrii Bukvych, chargé d’affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy.

The soccer club will celebrate its home opener in Ottawa this weekend against Cavalry FC, based out of Calgary, with a “Pay What You Can” offer with varied ticket price tiers beginning at only five dollars. This ticket sale model was successful in last year’s season, bringing 12,000 fans to the 2021 home opener. However, Hunt said that this year’s sales “combined with a time-relevant and community-building outreach could see the crowd surpass previous records.”

“Ottawa has a strong history of coming together to support those in need,” Hunt said. “Our community has done that in spades already. With this match, we want to encourage them to extend a helping hand, join us in celebrating the strength and resilience of the people of Ukraine and get rewarded with a thrilling soccer match to boot.”

The game, which will be held at TD Place, will feature Ukrainian music and food. Photos of the “beautiful country Ukraine is and will be again” will be broadcast on the big screen, Hunt told OBJ. In addition, the team will be wearing limited-edition jerseys in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag, which will later be auctioned with all proceeds going to humanitarian aid. 

Hunt told OBJ he was “very happy” to see the support and excitement that Ottawans have shown about the event. “I knew they would.”

“It’s a chance to not only contribute financially but to show support,” said Hunt. “People like to help where they can.”

The Ukrainian Embassy will be responsible for the allocation and distribution of the funds raised at the game, Hunt said, to ensure the money reaches Ukraine as soon as possible. 

“Many third-party agencies will all do good things, but it can sometimes take months before the proceeds would make it to the front lines,” said Hunt, “Working directly with the (Ukrainian) government was something I was happy we could accomplish.”

Mayor Jim Watson expressed his support, saying he is “proud to support Atlético Ottawa’s generous initiative that will directly assist the Ukrainian government as well as refugees that have been displaced to Ottawa due to the ongoing war in their country.”