Football, ice hockey, roller hockey (inline hockey), badminton, table tennis, basketball, airsoft, handball… and this is not even a complete list of sports played on Irish soil by Russian athletes.
And of course to match the breadth of Russian sport in Ireland are the personalities of our compatriots, the organizers of and participants in sporting events.
Maxim Bikhovsky is the coordinator of Sports Association of Russian-speakers in Ireland (SARSI). Here is what Maxim says of his organization: “Our association is involved in sports and cultural development, we want to involve many people in different sports, regardless of age and nationality. Also our association organizes evenings of Russian music competitions, competitions for the first ever Russian Ambassador’s Cup in various sports disciplines and we participate in the annual auto rally dedicated to Victory Day as organizers, and we even organize the community favourite, “fun starts” for the whole family.
“We want to instil a bright outlook for the future in our young people, cultural values and confidence in themselves and in what tomorrow might bring. We also arrange friendly football matches between Russian-speakers abroad, not only in different cities of Ireland but also in international compatriot sports clubs. Notable successes in this regard came with our team’s victory in the Lobanovskiy Tournament in London, the Sports Festival in Moscow, and the children’s football tournament in Barcelona”.
Also Maxim is the organizer of the very first Russian-speaking team on the island, which participated in the Irish local league with the symbolic name “Soviet Union F.C.”
This club was later renamed Dynamo Dublin. Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and all “our” people with the same mentality and outlook on life play for the Dynamo Dublin football team. “For me, Dynamo is more than just a team”, says club director Victor Ilnitsky from Ukraine, “It’s a society, a community, as they say in Ireland. We are all there for one another, I can call everyone at any time and count on their help, as they can on mine. After a workout we try to get together, socialize and host barbecues.”
At the moment the “Dynamo Dublin” club has a few teams in the Irish adult and children’s leagues, as well as a children’s football school.
And of course what self-respecting Russian club doesn’t have a hockey team! “Seeing as there is only one ice skating arena in Ireland, close to the border with Northern Ireland in Dundalk, we have split our clubs in two immigrants from the former USSR, our own Drogheda Icebreakers, and the Hawks, from Latvia, where ice hockey is the national sport”. Maxim Bikhovsky plays in Drogheda for our team.