Ukrainian women’s football club adjusts to life in Germany

On the day Russian troops stormed into Ukraine a month ago, players from women’s soccer club FC Kryvbas were heading to the airport on their way to a training camp and matches in Turkey.

They had to cut the trip short when Russian missile strikes hit their hometown of Krivyi Rih.

The players now live and train in Germany with the support of Cologne, a football club with teams in the men’s and women’s Bundesliga competitions.

Kryvbas players and staff have managed to stick together, but concentrating on training is far from easy.

“I’m very happy that we arrived here with our whole team, that we managed to keep the team. But honestly, I can’t say that football is a priority for me now,” said the midfielder. of Kryvbas Liubov Mozga on Wednesday in training “Peace on our land is a priority for me now.”

Kryvbas had booked a training camp with two friendlies in the Turkish resort of Belek from February 24, and the players were eager to reunite with their teammates who were on duty with the Ukrainian national team.

Kryvbas coach Alina Stetenco’s thoughts were to modernize physical training and recovery, and bring in new players from Ukraine and abroad to complement a young, rebuilding squad, she said the day before. on social networks.

The players were already on the bus when rocket fire hit the city. They took refuge in a hotel and stayed there for two weeks. The players eventually made it to Germany with the help of Artur Podkopayev, a former Kryvbas men’s youth player who lived in the country and sought help from Cologne.

Now players stay in a hotel in Cologne that has been converted into refugee accommodation, and they can use their host club’s modern training facilities. Kryvbas was third in the Ukrainian league when the war started and competitions were suspended. It’s unclear when they might resume.

Kryvbas captain Anna Ivanova said she could not adjust to life in Germany as her family remained in danger at home.

“Being here in a safe place, while your family is under shelling, is very difficult,” Ivanova said. “We are worried about our families. They’re in contact, they’re hiding in bomb shelters. Unfortunately, there are missiles flying, sirens going on, so their nights aren’t peaceful. In the same way, our nights are not calm either.

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