The Algarve 7s is almost upon us (remember it all starts on this Saturday, 11th of June) and after talking with players, head coachs, referees, and Legends of the game, it is time to present you Olga Surkova, one of the match-officials that will be on the tournament.
Until ntil the invasion and war broke out, Olga Surkova was (and still is) the captain of the Ukrainian Women’s 7s Team, but as everything came to stall she will now take the whistle and become a referee for the Algarve 7s, showing a trully inspirational journey to never stop doing what you love.
With her heart and mind set on growing in the 7's pitch, we had the chance to ask about her goals, future and dreams in this "Get to Know the Sevens in the Sun" interview.
How did you first get into rugby?
Olga Surkova: I met the oval ball in 2009 in my student years and have forever connected my life with rugby. I was an active rugby player for 11 years, played and captained the national team, and of course I have the titles of the Ukranian best player and top scorer, performed at many international tournaments Dubai7s, Copengagen7s, Amsterdam7s, Central7s, European Championship, World Universiade. In my entire career, I think I played 600 matches in 7s, after my career I was actively involved in refereeing and a manager for the development of women's rugby, where I created a project # we💙rugby. We went to the cities of Ukraine, held open trainings and had a dialogue with children and teenagers about the possibilities and prospects of rugby. Since 2020 I have become the head of women's rugby in Ukraine and am developing rugby and I also have a sports project “Yellow Melon” camps where we gather teachers, judges, coaches, doctors and managers and teams, as the mission of this project is to help each other develop and create have healthy competition in rugby.
What made you become a referee?
Olga Surkova: In 2015, in my hometown, a referee training class was opened and I went with joy, because it was very interesting for me and I always look to the future and understood that as a player my time is running out, and being a referee is always being in the game.
I know this is difficult but can you tell us a little about what you have been going through since February please? Where you were living before, what you were doing. How did you escape and is your family all safe?
Olga Surkova: On February 24, my life turned upside down and I don’t know when everything will fall into place, it’s very terrible ..... to leave my relatives, home, work and all my plans and gain strength to radically change everything and live on.
On the 10th day of the war, (then we didn’t know what dates, we counted the days of the war,) I understood that it’s impossible to live like this, you are in more stress and the child too, eternal worries and not calm, we decided to leave and this crazy adventure began with my husband’s sisters and children. We were brave and strong, although they understood what risks awaited us, it took a long time to cross the border, the road, but with the support of the rugby family in Moldova, Romania, Rugby Europe, France, everything went comfortably and now we have been living in France for 3 months, the city of Peregyu (here my child goes to school, to the rugby section).
I have a job and the second rugby family RC “CAP” appeared crazy support and the family in which I live Stefan and Marie Rocher, these are our guardian angels and my friends Jeremy and Tom, who have already become like my family in France.
What have you been doing since arriving in France?
Olga Surkova: I do my favorite thing, I train little kids, I come to training with girls, I show my skills in rugby and of course refereeing practice, here I first came out to referee rugby -15 and I'm happy that I did it, I got good reviews and I'm developing, there is a good motivation for judges this year. I won a grand and I am engaged in projects for the development of rugby among the masses and popularization, here, of course, rugby is a famous game.
I know you have refereed in Portugal already, what was that like?
Olga Surkova: If there was a smiley here, my reaction when I was told to referee rugby was shocked.I am grateful for this tournament and the great opportunity to referee so many games with a good quality of play, I really liked it, at every tournament I find good colleagues, judges and learn from them and gain experience.
What about the other members of the Ukraine Women’s team, where are they and are they safe?
Olga Surkova: Today, I know all the information about every player of the national team, everyone who was able to leave Ukraine and find a club, they are completely safe, and those who remain are also safe and healthy, they are engaged in volunteering and everything necessary to help. I'm proud of them.
In terms of your career, do you see refereeing as a way to stay in the game after you finish playing?
Olga Surkova: I love rugby very much and remain a referee, as it allows me to stay in the game to move and develop every day. So I am glad that I went to these courses in 2015, each game is an opportunity to plunge and get an adrenaline rush. Now refereeing for me is a pill (painkiller) which distracts from the terrible news about my country.
Have any plans been made yet to rebuild rugby in Ukraine and what can the rugby family do to help?
Olga Surkova: I am already writing a recovery strategy, the first years it will be very difficult in terms of financial assistance from the state, we will return the competitive calendar, and develop a new school rugby program and we hope that all the players will return home with their baggage of experience. I think we will do a survey of regional federations, update equipment, inventory and of course new knowledge, we will always need them, it doesn't matter if it is a coach, judge, doctor, manager who can come to us. Every day we feel the support of the rugby family,
What are you most looking forward to most in Algarve?
Olga Surkova: I hear a lot of positive feedback about this tournament. I'm sure that I will meet a great team of referees again, get a good experience from the games and meet rugby legends. It's cool when the stars are remembered, the tournament has the right philosophy and I like it. Rugby unites the best. I'm looking forward to a bright weekend
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Algarve 7s - 10-13 June 2022
You can buy now your ticket online and watch live all the action of the Algarve 7s 2022. Click here and come see the sevens in the sun: https://algarve7s.bol.pt/
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