Metalist Kharkiv: Football saved these children from war in Ukraine – Football

Their stadiums, which include sports fields, were destroyed and damaged by Putin’s missiles. People in their hometown of Kharkiv have to hide from attacks in bunkers. You are safe now. Because German friends acted quickly. And because they are so good football he can play

For two and a half months, 17 Metalist 1925 Kharkiv U13s lived on a farm in Brühl near Cologne. They go to school in the city and train there too. And win friendlies one by one.

Everything was organized and financed by Baris Yanmaz (43), the project developer from Brühl. A Ukrainian acquaintance asked him for help. Yanmaz immediately agreed. “I feel it is a human duty to help people who have lost everything overnight. One day I will have to answer my grandchildren’s questions about what I did to these people when the terrible war began,” he tells Bams.


A group photo with a legend.  Helmut Kremers (far right) with the Metalist line.  Back from right: coach Evgeny Nazarov, Paris Yanmaz and Dmytro Choprin, known by the parents of the other boys as B.Foto: Malte Krudewig

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A group photo with a legend. Helmut Kremers (far right) with the Metalist line. Back from right: coach Evgeny Nazarov, Paris Yanmaz and Dmytro Choprin, who was hired as coach by the parents of the other boysPhoto: Malte Krudewig

He doesn’t want to say how much money he’s investing in helping: “There’s no money in the world that can outlast my love for these kids.”

On March 27, the group arrived at Cologne Central Station. Most kids only have a backpack with them. They are accompanied by a father and mother.

Upon arrival, the children endured a journey from the war zone that lasted over a month.

Her comrade Dmytro Choprin recalled: “All the children were in the bunker in the first days of the war. Then some go to other places in the Ukraine fled, and others remained in the city.”

The whole team meets ten days after the start of the war in Mukachev, near the Hungarian border. Hoping for a quick departure. But nothing will come of it. Because even in war there is bureaucracy: parents must allow their children to leave Ukraine. The group waits a month for all the papers, and they sleep together in a large room in the kindergarten.

When all the documents are finally there, the border crossing no longer has a window to allow the children to leave the country. Supervisors are desperately looking for a bus that will take them to the Polish border. Children can travel abroad more easily.


On a player's birthday, Yanmaz invited the team to a fast food restaurantFoto: privat

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On a player’s birthday, Yanmaz invited the team to a fast food restaurantPhoto: special

But the papers are missing again at the next border, which they arrived at five days later. Despair grows. Wait again, again only one room in the school is available for overnight stay.

Salvation came three days later: the group was allowed to cross the border into Poland, drove to Karlsruhe, and from there to Cologne.

On the Brühl farm, the boys play soccer and tennis, have VCRs, and watch Ukraine’s World Cup qualifying matches. Funded by Paris Yanmaz. His wife, Khatun, takes care of the administrative procedures. The Youth Welfare Office stops by and speaks to the children in private.

Helmut Kremers (73) often comes to visit. The SchalkeBamS legend (226 matches / 45 goals): “Paris and I have known each other for a long time. He asked me for help and of course I am happy to help.” For example, when organizing friendly matches: “When I see the boys playing, my heart melts. There Real talent there!”

The Metalist U13s have played eleven matches in their age group since arriving in Brühl and have won eleven matches. Including against Schalke 04, Leverkusen and the FA’s U14 base.

The talent of the players did not go unnoticed by the scouts of the big teams. Leverkusen wanted four kickers, and Juventus Turin are interested in one.

Yanmaz: You don’t have a chance! It has been clearly agreed with the club and the parents that the team will stay together.”

No one knows how long the 18 children will remain in Germany. Residence permits are valid for two years, and the boys have been attending two high schools in the area for three weeks, diligently learning German.

Cramers: “Now we want to make sure the team can compete in the first division at their age. The kids need to compete. The association has to move!”

At home, more than three-quarters of the parents’ homes were destroyed. Babies are in contact with their mothers via WhatsApp. When the network reaches the bunkers. They rarely hear from their parents who are up front. Fortunately, there are no victims in captivity to grieve.

Defender Igor (13 years old) is among the children who speak the best German: “My name is Igor, I am from Ukraine and I play football. I love Messi. ” Then he runs in the field – a perfectly normal child among perfectly normal children.

When the players of Metalist Kharkiv U13 put the ball at their feet, they forget for a moment what they saw. and concern for their families.

The team trains in Brühl for two hours a day. Even twice in the weekend. Coach Evgeny Nazarov, who was allowed to leave Ukraine because he was unfit for military service due to a thigh injury, makes sure that the start is on time.

His memories will not leave him either: “The trams pass through the farm we live in. Sometimes when I hear them I am stunned because I think they are rockets. Then I think and realize that my players are safe.”

From war to the arena of hope – thank you football.

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