Meet the Match

An Advocate for Peace through Hockey in Ukraine

Olga Dolinina grew up as an only child in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. While the other girls in the neighborhood were playing with dolls, Olga was busy playing games with the boys. She loved the adventure of being outside – climbing trees, playing catch, and kicking football. Although it was strange to her peers, her parents were supportive and the boys were inclusive. As a result, she learned many valuable lessons and insights that continue to serve her well today. “Playing with the boys, I learned to compete. They never once treated me like a girl. I never received any special privileges. I had to make my own way. From this, I learned quickly how to make it in a male’s world.”

Olga’s energy and competitive spirit carried over into other areas of her life as well. In school, she was very motivated to earn the best possible marks, and she did, graduating at the top of her class.  She also developed an elite-level tennis game and became a volunteer and an educational and cultural event coordinator for her peers. High levels of social, athletic, and educational engagement followed Olga into the university, where she started her degree program in psychology while also becoming the first press officer for the regional Football Federation of Ukraine. During that time, she also worked as a part-time sports journalist at the Komanda, the All-Ukrainian Sports Newspaper.

“I have never been the type of person that can relax and do just one thing at a time. I want to take from life as much as possible. I want to experience things and feel emotions. I want to inspire others to see that these things are possible to do, even for women. People just need some motivation and energy and I want to be that example for them.” Olga’s enthusiasm has positioned her uniquely as one of the only women working in the field of sports administration in Ukraine. And one of only a handful of women employed by the prestigious Donbass Hockey Club in Donestsk.

As the head of Marketing and Public Relations, Olga is responsible for coordinating socially responsible projects and cultivating new interest in Donbass Hockey. Her dream is to be mentored by the NHL, “the best hockey system in the world.” Through the mentorship experience, she would like to learn how to develop programs and sporting events that encourage young girls to become more interested in hockey, both as participants and fans. Ultimately, she would like to see more females who aspire to work in the sports industry.

“Sport management in Ukraine is really developing and I see a lot of advantages to encouraging young women to be a part of this movement. There are certain things in this field that are easier for a woman to do. And it’s important to give them the opportunities to do this and let them experience success. Women in Ukraine need to feel included, need to exercise leadership, and need to know that they can help solve the problems we are facing in our society. Sports are a way for them to understand their power.”

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