On Sunday, 19 March 2023, pickleball was officially introduced to Moldova. The event was organized as a Ukrainian refugee socialization event with local NGOs, local businesses, and the squash and paddle clubs in Chișinău, Moldova and Iasi, Romania. The inaugural event was planned for two hours but it lasted 6 hours. After what they have been through, it is so great to see these kids laughing and having fun. Team psychologist, Margarita Belecciu, says: “Pickleball is a great sport to promote socialization of kids impacted by war. It helps in elevating self-esteem and combating depression.”
The first pickleball games in Moldova were attended by about 35-40 players, of which 15 were Ukrainian teenage refugees. This was the kick-off event for an after-school socialization program for Ukrainian and Moldovan kids, also a collaboration between local NGOs, business community, clubs, and two psychologists. Next, we will take equipment into Ukraine to teach displaced kids and organize socialization programs with the squash and paddle clubs in Odesa.
The event was organized by the American Multinational Jewish Federation (AMJF) of Encinitas, California, and A Better World for Us of Chișinău, Moldova, in collaboration with the Chișinău, Moldova based Kangaroo Squash and Paddle Club, IPaddel, Club Cami, and Federația de Paddel din Republica Moldova, as well as FZN Arena of Iasi, Romania. The debut of Pickleball is the first step in a program being developed by AMJF, A Better World for Us, MilleniuM Training and Development Institute, and the Kangaroo Squash and Paddel Club to introduce the sport to school and refugee/displaced persons programs in Moldova and Ukraine. Other sponsors of the event included: The Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova’s Humanitarian Aid Center, and the Purcari Foundation.
We will have an international tournament between Moldova, Romanian, and Ukraine in October to correspond with the annual wine festival in Moldova.