Ukrainian kids play soccer again in bombed-out stadium


Young players of the Olymp football club attend a training session at the Central stadium in the Irpin town, which was heavily damaged during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine July 6, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

IRPIN, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian children have started playing soccer again in a bombed-out stadium outside Kyiv, a much-needed distraction after more than four months of war.

The Champion stadium was heavily damaged in the weeks that followed Russia's invasion, when Russian forces reached the outskirts of Ukraine's capital and occupied parts of the city of Irpin.

The stadium's walls are still pockmarked with bullet holes, but much of the shrapnel has been cleared away and holes in the pitch from mortar bombs have been plugged.

Danylo Kysil, 26, a coach at the stadium and director of the Olymp Irpin team, took part in the clean-up.

"When we saw the stadium with the first people who came after the liberation, it was very grim. There was shrapnel and rubbish everywhere," Kysil told Reuters after leading a group of around a dozen boys in soccer drills.

Asked how he felt when he welcomed the children back to training, Kysil said: "I needed to show everything was fine on the outside, so the kids wouldn't feel my emotional exhaustion."

Eleven-year-old Denys Voitovych, who plays in midfield for Olymp Irpin, said he was relieved to be back on the pitch.

"I'm very happy that we can play soccer now instead of staying home, playing games and watching stupid videos on the tablet," he said.

Danyilo Rohalskyi, also 11, said he was enjoying being back among friends and having the chance to work on his soccer skills.

(Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In World

To rescue 10 trapped miners, Mexico turns to German, U.S. companies
Switzerland to return Uzbekistan's assets frozen in money laundering probe
In northern Chile, miners ask government to curb crime, robberies
Portuguese wildfire envelops Madrid skyscrapers in smoke 400 km away
German driver jailed for life for 2020 pedestrian zone killings
Eleven convicted of gang-rape in 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots go free
Sri Lanka will not extend emergency as protests tail off
Lebanese man who held up bank to access savings released without charge - brother
Russian-installed authorities say Ukraine shelling near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant -Interfax
Russia, Turkey sign contract for second batch of S-400 air defence systems TASS

Others Also Read