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Roses for the Donbass Arena

 The Way Home (Ukraine) 19 April 2019

Eastern Europe's finest stadium recently opened its doors to the kids from Domovenok FC. But it wasn't a Shakhtar match that the young footballers had come to see; rather, the Odessa side, along with their Kiev and Donetsk rivals, had the opportunity to participate in the presentation of the FIFA World Cup trophy, which took place in Donetsk on 23rd March 2010. Artyom Zverkov reports on the event for The Way Home in Ukraine, where the young footballers learned a bit more about the sport and the environment. (651 Words) - By Artyom Zverkov

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Eastern Europe's finest stadium recently opened its doors to the kids from Domovenok FC. But it wasn't a Shakhtar match that the young footballers had come to see; rather, the Odessa side, along with their Kiev and Donetsk rivals, had the opportunity to participate in the presentation of the FIFA World Cup trophy, which took place in Donetsk on 23rd March 2010.

This event represented a joint venture between the Odessa Charitable Fund, "The Way Home" and Coca Cola's "Green Football for Children's Health" campaign, who teamed up to provide kids from the Ukrainian cities of Odessa, Donetsk and Kiev the opportunity to visit the famous Donbass Arena and to see the World Cup.

The Odessans, and their Kievan peers, arrived in Donetsk on the 22nd March, on the eve of the football tournament. Doing their bit for the environment first and foremost, the kids had brought roses down from their respective towns and they planted them in the park adjacent to the stadium, as well as laying out seed for the birds. Despite the incessant drizzle, their co-ordinated ecological efforts were effective and thoroughly enjoyed by all. They spent all of the following day in the Arena itself. In the football tournament which took place between the sides that morning, the Donetsk hosts took the spoils. Unfortunately Domovenok didn't manage to make the final, going out to the eventual winners in the semis. Worthy of special mention are the goalkeeping heroics of our very own Sasha Yushanski, who made a number of spectacular saves, denying what looked to be certain goals. But football is not a one-man game, and his team-mates proved unable to match the extraordinary standard set by the pair of safe hands in their box. A number of chances to strike back against the home team were squandered, and the Odessa team paid dearly for these mistakes as the seemingly invincible Yushanski finally buckled under relentless onslaught. Suffices to say, Domovenok's finishing still leaves much to be desired, and there remains plenty of work to be done.

After the tournament the kids were given a tour of the stadium, taking advantage of its various soccer-themed attractions. The kids had a chance to practice their dribbling against one another, take shots on goal and then unwind with some table football. Then all those wishing to do so were afforded the opportunity to have their faces painted with team colours, just as they are worn by those particularly inveterate supporters on match day.

Just before the presentation all those in attendance were treated to a surprise showing of a 3D film, previewing at the forthcoming World Cup, which is being held in South Africa this summer. The film recalled some of the all-time legends of the game and showed highlights from the World Cups of yesteryear. Then the moment all had been waiting for - the presentation of the trophy. The honour of unveiling was bestowed on the regional manager of "Coca Cola Ukraine" Walter Gordon, the mayor of Donetsk Aleksander Lukyanenko and the head coach of the Mircea Luchesku, manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. The presence of this hero of a side many of them and their peers support made quite an impression on the youngsters from Odessa. Everyone had a chance to get their souvenir photo taken with Luchesku, a legend of the national game and the first man ever to bring the UEFA Cup to Ukraine, as well as getting a snapshot with the World Cup itself.

My final thoughts; while the team failed to win the tournament, victories will eventually come, in time and with hard work. More importantly on this trip, the kids were able to share in football's history, tragedies and traditions. I think that this journey to the spiritual homeland of the national game, as Donetsk is considered, is not one that any of our young stars of the future will soon forget.

Originally published by The Way Home (Ukraine) © www.streetnewsservice.org

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