Soldiers pay tribute to Ukrainian stars – Follow the European Championship with this tournament – European Football Championship 2024

Soldiers pay tribute to Ukrainian stars – Follow the European Championship with this tournament – European Football Championship 2024

Ukrainian soldiers kick a ball with local children when they are met by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) in a front-line village in Ukraine.

This sport represents a fun break for young and old from a daily war, approximately two years and four months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Sports help us deal with the psychological pressures we face. We attract young people, the younger generation. It's interesting, we have a lot of fun. In any case, we are raising the will to fight a little, says 35-year-old Max to NRK.

In addition to playing football, Max and the other soldiers follow the European Community as much as possible:

– If we are not at work, we will of course follow up via StarlinkAnd cheering, and cheering, and cheering. If we were on duty we would listen on the radio and our brothers would tell us who won.

Max, soldier 35, Ukraine

Motivation: Max is inspired by the national team's participation in the European Championship, and wants to get as much out of the tournament as possible.

Photo: Frode Verdingstad/NRK

Starlink is a satellite-based internet service from Elon Musk's space company SpaceX.

It was provided to Ukraine shortly after the invasion in 2022, to ensure communication between Ukrainian forces.

– Like everyone else, we want to see the broadcast

In an interview with NRK, Max's fellow soldier Al-Shishani thanks Elon Musk for allowing him to watch the election match and be online.

We have many streaming services where we can watch football matches, so I don't think this is a big problem now. The only problem might be electricity, but in the area I'm in, it's rarely cut off, Al-Shishani says.

Soldier Arthur confirms that they prefer to watch battles at home with family and friends.

– It will not work now because we are defending our motherland. “If there is an opportunity to watch the broadcast, we, like everyone else, want to see it,” Artur adds.


Starlink: With the help of a satellite signal, soldiers can follow the European Football Championship between matches.

Photo: Frode Verdingstad/NRK

They consider the national team a great source of inspiration.

– We are in a state of war, and this motivates us who are directly on the battlefield. It inspires, encourages and strengthens you. “That's why we know this will be a victory,” says Artur.

Max hopes that the efforts made on the battlefield will be reflected in the national team players:

– In the same way they inspired us with their victories, we will inspire them with their team spirit.


Contrast: Artur shoots two Russian drones, while the Ukrainian national team players shoot the ball into the goal.

Photo: Frode Verdingstad/NRK

Cheer each other up

There are many indicators that the efforts of Max, Chechnya, Artur and their fellow soldiers have already galvanized the players fighting for honor and glory in Germany.

The Ukrainian Football Union published, on Monday, video on their social media with the text “Our cities would like to host the European Commission, but they are fighting for freedom.” The video shows 13 players from the national team, and highlights the devastation that the war caused to their cities.

During the press conference before the match against Romania, coach Serhij Rebrov also emphasized the seriousness of the situation at home:


Proud: Ukrainian national team coach Serzhij Rebrov clutches his chest as he sings the national anthem before the opening match at the European Championship.

Photo: Agence France-Presse

– He is very emotional. It is very good and important for Ukraine to be here in the European Community. All Ukrainians want to be a European nation. Football, of course, is not the first priority in Ukraine now. Many people and many children have died, says Rebrov.

-We are very grateful to our warriors, soldiers and supporters. Because it is a very difficult time in Ukraine. In every interview, I want to remind people that our war is still ongoing. We will continue to fight for our freedom.

Arsenal player Oleksandr Zinchenko also spoke loudly about the war in the press. In an interview with the German channel ZDF, he talked about how the national team was motivated by soldiers, such as Max, Chechnya and Artur.

– Those who fight on the front lines for our freedom and independence risk their lives every day. They also have family and friends. For them, it is very difficult, for us it is of course an additional incentive. We all know who is behind us. “So we have to be at our best,” the 27-year-old said.


Audio: After the loss to Romania, Zinchenko said he felt embarrassed in front of the fans, and promised to perform better in the next match.

Photo: Reuters

– Like turning off a switch

– Zintchenko helps financially and in other ways. Football is a sport where people have the opportunity to devote their interest to more than sports. He explained what is happening in our country now, so I think he is a good person and citizen, says Artur.

In a forested area on the front, he shot down Russian drones. He and his fellow soldiers hope to enjoy quiet days during the EC period, so they can follow their football stars.

Under the camouflage net lies the sniper Gadja.

– He explains: – I protect myself from FPV drones.

DSC00375 2

Sniper: “Uncle” Gadja hopes the joy of sports will also spread to politicians.

Photo: Frode Verdingstad/NRK

Needless to say, it's not always easy to follow sporting events from here.

– I used to play football, and I enjoy all kinds of sports, such as boxing, volleyball, rowing, and athletics, but it is not easy for me to continue them now. Now it's more about weapons and positioning. So, we don't have enough time to follow, but the joy is great when I see some matches, or goals in the replay, smiles Djadja, whom his fellow soldiers call “Uncle.”

He says that Ukraine's participation in the European Commission has raised morale.

– Watching a football match is like turning off a switch and I can breathe. I can feel the joy of sports… and the frustration of sports, the sniper jokes.

Ukraine lost to Romania on Monday. On Friday, the national team is looking for its first victory in the European Group against Slovakia, a neighboring country that does not contribute weapons to Ukraine. “Uncle” believes and hopes that football will have positive and political effects:

– When politicians are in a good mood and watch sports together, they can sit down and enjoy themselves, relax and drink beer together. Then they can more easily agree on something.

Nine-year-old Vova is among the local children playing soccer with the soldiers. He is convinced that Ukraine will leave a mark in the European Union.

– Ukraine will win, he says insistently.

Vova, nine years old.  Ukraine

He says: Vova is confident on the field and faces the risk of Ukraine’s victory in the European Group.

Photo: Frode Verdingstad/NRK

06/21/2024 at 09.39

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Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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