Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Soccer: short and sweet

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Short and sweet.

It was the advice from his father that Winnipegger Peter Manastyrsky had running through his head as the St. Nicholas Men's Club honoured him with the Ukrainian Sportsman of Year Award at its 47th annual dinner on May 11.

"I was always told by my father not to speak long and to keep my presentation very short," Manastyrsky said recently at his North Kildonan home.

"On the other hand, it was a bit longer than the norm because I wanted to thank the people that really helped me get to where I am today."

Today the 64-year-old Manastyrsky has a legacy as the main driving force for the development of soccer within the city's Ukrainian community.

The 2012 season will mark the 19th for Manastyrsky as president of the Winnipeg Dynamo Kyiv Soccer Club, a popular Ukrainian-based team that sits atop the 2nd division in the Manitoba Major Soccer League.

And like most successful sporting clubs, it comes with a rich history.

Manastyrsky arrived in Winnipeg at the age of eight, equipped with very little English.

But hard work and his love for helping others would lead to an enrolment at the University of Manitoba where he would earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in education, a career that lasted 35 years.

He and his wife Halia married in 1974 and they had two children, Peter and Tanya.

It was the enrolment of their two kids in soccer that Manastyrsky said marked the beginning of his love for the game.

As his interest in the game grew, so did Manastyrsky's involvement in the Ukrainian soccer community.

In the early 1980s, Manastyrsky took over the presidency of IPAC, Winnipeg's only existing Ukrainian-based soccer club operated by the Canadian Ukrainian Institute Prosvita.

But due to a disagreement in the direction of the club, Manastyrsky left the program after five years. It wouldn't be until 1991, after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union and many started to make their way to Canada, that Manastyrsky began to see an opportunity to field a competitive soccer club that would don the native colours of yellow and blue.

"The Italians had a team, the Portuguese had a team, the Germans had a team. And I thought it would be nice to identify a team of Ukrainian background. I wanted the community to identify themselves with something other than song and dance."

In 1993, Manastyrsky and a group of friends purchased Jamaica United, a third-division soccer club that had recently folded and was up for sale.

Manastyrsky still remembers the first time the Dynamo Kyiv Soccer Club stepped on to the pitch.

With only minutes to go before the start of the game, Manastyrsky realized half his team didn't have the necessary shin guards required to play.

"I told the ref we weren't ready yet and I went to my car," Manastyrsky said in between laughs.

"Luckily I had cardboard boxes that I ripped up, and the guys jammed them in their socks and off we played."

Fast forward to today, and Manastyrsky is quickly approaching the club's 20th season, a program that has the respect of both the Winnipeg soccer and Ukrainian communities.

So what keeps him going after all these years?

"I'm very proud to be Ukrainian, and I love what I do."

Short. And sweet.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 J4

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