Karyna is a school psychologist. She works with traumatized children in Eastern Ukraine. Her city has suffered directly from the on-going conflict in Ukraine, including periods under rebel control. Although Karyna does not really care for football, she will still use the power of play to help children overcome their trauma.


As psychologist, Karyna has experienced that children are often afraid of psychologist. So Karyna decided to take part in the Young Coach Education Programme and learn how to use football to get through to them – to find a common language. While playing, children open up to her and give her a ground to help them.


Project: Ukraine, October 2016 – May 2017

Parent Organisation: International Organization for Migration, Ukraine

Born: 1995

Nationality: Ukraine

Project Ukraine | Facts


“I work with difficult children and children from the temporarily occupied and uncontrolled territories of Ukraine. The children I work with come from different regions. Some come from Donetsk [temporarily occupied], and some from Ukraine. Sometimes these children do not even speak to each other. So, my job is to teach them to respect and be friendly to each other.

I took part in this programme in order to learn how I could use football in my work with these children. I have never played football before and, honestly, I am not a big football fan either. But football is so powerful. Football is the easiest way to play. You only need a ball and that is basically it. The Young Coach Education Programme has given me the knowledge to organise play-based activities for the children I work with. This allows me to be on the same level as them. This approach is very different to what I was previously used to as a school psychologist. Children are usually afraid of us psychologists. Appointments take place in our office and we try to teach them the rules that they have to follow.

However, I have noticed that by playing with them, they open up and start trusting me. Once I have their trust, I can still teach them the same rules and behaviour in a way that is far easier and more convenient for the kids to understand. And after all, especially now, with the situation in our region, ensuring that the children have fun is more important than it has ever been.”


Young Coaches

Our Young Coaches are community leaders and role models in less privileged societies. They commit themselves to support the children of their communities by conveying important social topics (conflict resolution, inclusion, HIV prevention, etc.) through football. Each of the Young Coaches represents a unique personal story.