Athletes’ courage inspires Nik Matiouk to volunteer at Invictus Games
As the Invictus Games kick-off in Sydney this week, one Sydney Local Health District employee is preparing for a very special role.
Systems manager Nik Matiouk is a Family and Friends Liaison Officer for the Ukrainian team, a voluntary position that sees him taking care of15 athletes and their support crew.
The Invictus Games were founded by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, to support the rehabilitation of wounded, injured or ill current or former servicemen and women.
Prince Harry, who is in Sydney with his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, for a royal tour, will attend the Opening Ceremony on Saturday.
The Invictus Games brings together hundreds of wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel from across the world to take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, archery and swimming.
The event aims to harness the power of sport to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of defence force personnel and to garner community support for them as they work to overcome physical and emotional hurdles experienced as a result of their service.
Nik said the never give-up-attitude of the competitors had inspired him to volunteer his time to support the Ukrainian contingent.
“Not to give-up. That’s the whole message of the Games. Life goes on. Lift yourself up and keep going. And they are proof of that,” he said.
Nik’s family is from Ukraine and his parents still live there. When a local committee was set-up to help the Ukrainian team during the Games in Sydney he was among the first to join.
“My role as a Family and Friends Liaison Officer is to take care of about 35 family and friends and to help them get the Games and to help them will all aspects of life in Australia,” he said.
About 500 competitors from 18 nations – including Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Iraq, Poland, the United States and the United Kingdom – will participate in the eight-day event. 1000 family and friends are expected to join them.
The adaptive sports program includes archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
Concord Hospital is the official athletes’ hospital for the Games.
Away from the competition, Nik hopes to show the team and its supporters some of the sights of Sydney like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium and the Powerhouse Museum.
“I’m looking forward to meeting people, listening to them … seeing how their life has changed after war and how they cope with all of that,” Nik said.
The Opening Ceremony will be held on the Opera House forecourt on October 20. Competition will take place at venues across Sydney with the Games running until October 27.
To find out more, see https://www.invictusgames2018.org/