Huddersfield RUFC chose the occasion of their National 2 North home game against Loughborough Students to demonstrate their support for the people of Ukraine.
The proceeds of the match day raffle and a collection amongst the spectators raised over £1500. The money has been donated to the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal. On the day a symbolic expression of support was made by the players and crowd prior to kick off, the Ukrainian flag was flown on the club staff and the match programme, which contained editorial comment, was adapted to reflect the occasion.
One club member was particularly pleased by the strength of the support shown. Bohdan Santar is president elect of HRUFC and also serves as secretary and vice chairman. ‘My father was Ukrainian and experienced at first hand the horrors of war. In World War 2 he was forcibly conscripted into the Soviet army when they overran the country. He was just 16 years old. He was captured by the Germans and transported to Belgium to work in the coal mines, where he remained until the country was liberated by the Allies. At the end of the war, along with many of his compatriots, he came to the UK and started a new life here in Yorkshire.
‘My family was from the west of the country and I still have relatives living there. The developments in the east have concerned me for years and I have long feared a Russian invasion. Back in the 1930’s, under Soviet occupation and Stalin’s dictatorship, millions of Ukrainians were starved to death or displaced, during the ‘Holodomor’. The recent occupation of Crimea and subsequent invasion echoes that past. The fact that Putin’s take over of Crimea met with only modest opposition from the western powers has emboldened him to push on. However, his assertion that there is an appetite for affiliation with Russia in Ukraine is ridiculous. He talks of a separatist movement in the Donbas area in the east but the problems there stem from Russian infiltration. I would remind people that back in 2014, when the present crisis was in its infancy, 298 passengers and crew were killed when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over the region by a Russian missile. Russia is intent on eliminating the independence of Ukraine and denying its citizens democracy and freedom.
‘I have been heartened by the support of decent people throughout the world for the people of Ukraine and I am proud of the efforts made by all at the rugby club. The actions taken in Ukraine by Putin are appalling and I feel sorry for the ordinary folk of Russia, where opposition to his dreadful conduct is simply being suppressed. The brutal war Putin has inflicted on a peaceful neighbour, creating misery for millions, will not be forgotten or forgiven.’
Photo. Huddersfield Under 9 players helped conduct the collection.