Ukraine team manager discusses importance of country having a voice with Meghan

The Invictus Games Ukraine team manager – who is set to appear in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix documentary – has discussed the importance of “having a voice” with Meghan.

The Ukrainian team were cheered and applauded at the event in The Hague on Friday where a crew was filming for Heart Of Invictus – a series from Archewell Productions following people who are competing in the games.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky encouraged his country’s Invictus team – some of whom currently serve in their country’s military – to travel to the Netherlands for the event, according to Oksana Horbach, the Ukraine team manager.

Oksana Horbach, Ukraine team manager (Aaron Chown/PA)

(PA Wire)

Ms Horbach, 39, is in the Ukraine Armed Forces working in the supply chain in Kyiv, supplying meals to servicemen and women.

She was among those to have met with Harry and Meghan when the couple attended the Zuiderpark for a reception ahead of the games opening at the weekend.

Ms Horbach told the PA news agency: “I spoke with Meghan about the importance of having a voice and she totally understood that – be heard, be vocal, have a voice, just tell your own truth, your experience. It’s very important to her.

“And she told me that it is something that they support profoundly, with full heart, to have this platform, Invictus Games platform, for the nations, especially for Ukraine, to be able to have that voice.

“And Prince Harry says that he totally supports Ukraine and he says that during the next day we will feel how much support there is to give by the Invictus Games community and that he totally supports Ukrainian people in this fight.”

The Duchess of Sussex (Aaron Chown/PA)

(PA Wire)

Ms Horbach said she was impressed with how much Harry knew about her and her team.

“He knew exactly who we are, and that was something that spoke to me profoundly about his nature, about his character. He really cares,” she said.

Ms Horbach added: “This is team Ukraine and he knows exactly who we are. He knows our stories. He knows who I am and who the competitors are.”

She said of Harry and Meghan: “They are really, really attentive kind people.”

Reflecting on the decision to take part in the games while a war continues in her country, she said: “It was difficult to come. I think the really difficult part was decision making – whether we do come or not.”

Ms Horbach added: “The decision involved the Prime Minister and the President of Ukraine, and the decision was made that the Ukrainian team needs to be presented at Invictus Games because it’s such a great huge very important platform represented by 20 nations.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Aaron Chown/PA)

(PA Wire)

“We need to have a presence here and a voice here and actually be who we are.”

Ms Horbach said: “Our president told us that he doesn’t think that we leave Ukraine, he thinks that Ukraine has left with us, so is present with us here in The Hague.

“So this is the attitude we have right here. We are representing our country, and this is a strong country – strong, proud and resilient country.”

She said the team are going to talk about Ukraine – their experiences and stories – while in the Netherlands.

“And what we know, what we see, is not from the news. It’s from our practical everyday, real experience. This is horrible, it’s brutal, and we need to share this, and we need to tell about this because it is something that is very close to European borders.

“And it is scary that such a horrible thing can happen so close to European borders.

“So here we are, a real representative of a country which nobody believed would stand more than 48 hours, and 50 days later we are still there and really standing strong,” she said.

Ms Horbach said the Netflix team was filming for the Invictus documentary on Friday.

She said she thinks they chose to film her for the series because she is “really energetic” and passionate about her job as manager, but said she fears it will be a “dull story”, joking: “You know, such a great story of a manager waking up at 6’o’clock in the morning, going to the meeting.”

Ms Horbach said she does not know how prominent she will be in the documentary.

“The goal is to make a nice film. What we want to do is to do a nice movie, such as that people around the world know more about Invictus values, and about Ukraine as a nation participating in Invictus Games and what we are going through to actually make it happen for us,” she said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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