GENERICO.ruSport“My mother and I lived in the basement for months”: how sports are being revived in Mariupol

“My mother and I lived in the basement for months”: how sports are being revived in Mariupol


When entering Mariupol you feel uneasy. Just a couple of hundred kilometers away, ordinary peaceful life is going on, but here there are thousands of bombed objects: from residential high-rise buildings and bridges to schools, hospitals and kindergartens. And as a symbol of the fierce massacre – the destroyed huge workshops of the Azovstal plant, where the neo-Nazis were hiding.

Many private houses were burned to the ground, only chimneys remained, which are reminiscent of the villages burned by the fascists in Belarus, the Smolensk region and Ukraine during the Great Patriotic War. Painted inscriptions “People Live” are still preserved on the standing fences. They were made for enemies who were looking for places for firing points, which immediately doomed residents and buildings to shelling. But sometimes this did not help.

Now Mariupol returns to peaceful life. People who have lost their homes are gradually moving into new apartments. There is a wedding boom in the city: there are days when 35 couples get married at once; there are cases of Russians coming from other cities to get married in Mariupol. After the nightmare, sports are being revived at a frantic pace.

“Many of the “library” did not leave”
“My mother and I lived in the basement of the house for several months,” recalls local resident Alexander, a patriot of the city and everything Russian. “One day we went out to get water, and a mortar crew from the roof of a high-rise building began shooting at ordinary people. My mother was wounded by a shrapnel in her hand, and she still has A tendon was broken for a while, I was concussed, but we were able to return alive. And at the door of the entrance I saw a girl about four years old torn into pieces.”

For how many children and adults did tomorrow never come? Townspeople say that agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and “Azovites” (a terrorist organization banned in Russia – editor’s note) set up a torture room in the airport building. They cynically called it a “library”. They believed that any person could be “read” and then thrown away like a useless book. People who were dissatisfied with the lawlessness of the military and the Ukrainian regime were brought there from all over the city. They identified from photographs those who participated in the “Mariupol Spring” of 2014. They took away for their active life position, for loyalty to principles and those whom dissatisfied locals pointed out to the agents. And many went missing after the “library.”

In recent years, in Mariupol, according to various sources, from 5.5 to 7.5 thousand people died. The indigenous people believe that all the terrible things are behind them. They are returning with families, seeing the rapid restoration of the city.

“No one even expected that everything would go at such a fast pace,” admits local worker Vladimir. “In one year, an incredible number of buildings were erected, there are even microdistricts built from scratch.”

We are moving along the outskirts of the city. Previously, there were spacious fields here, but after the end of hostilities the area was landscaped, comfortable five-story houses were erected, a school and three modern football grounds were built. Now children from “Olympia” (formerly the school of the “Mariupol” football club) study here.

“As soon as after the start of the bombing we heard that the corridor for leaving Mariupol was temporarily open “, we got ready in 15 minutes,” says Anastasia, the mother of one of the football players. “We left for Belarus, and when last summer we learned about enrollment in the section, we immediately decided to return. We arrived in August, it was very difficult, we lived without electricity for two months , but now they are happy to just return to their hometown.”

By According to her, then only 25 people were recruited from children of different ages. And now there are already more than three hundred in the section.

“We walked around the yards and collected guys,” recalls the school coach Andrei Pilipenko “Then we searched through the Internet and social networks. First, we formed children's groups, and then paired groups of older children, 7-8 and 9-10 grades. Those who are stronger can already move on to adult football.”

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And the guys have a prospect: the men's team plays in the Commonwealth Cup – along with clubs from the LPR, DPR, Crimea, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. And Anastasia’s son, as a member of the DPR youth team, has already participated in a tournament held in Kazan.

In the coming years, it is planned to build a modern ice arena on the site where there was a destroyed and then demolished hypermarket. “The most important thing is that we don’t get bombed anymore,” say Mariupol residents. “We will still restore our beloved city. Thanks to everyone who helps us.”

Work for Russian students
Mariupol is far from the only city in the new regions where the federal program of the Ministry of Sports “Sport is the norm of life” is being implemented. We looked into Novoazovsk (DPR), a small town with a dozen Soviet five-story buildings and a predominance of the private sector. We attended the opening of a reconstructed sports ground on the territory of an industrial technical school. The old one served faithfully for 12 years, and now a modern artificial football turf has been laid on it. In the city, sports are held in special esteem; in particular, boxing, basketball, football, rhythmic gymnastics, and wushu are being developed. And this is not surprising: the head of the city, Alexander Balandin, is a master of sports of the USSR in rowing.

Things are much more tense in Melitopol, located two hundred kilometers from Mariupol. Impressions from neighboring cities are like heaven and earth. One is half burned, the other is almost not scorched by the war. In Melitopol, noticeably more Russian military personnel are visible on the streets; all significant objects are under increased security. As local residents say, they fear not so much shelling as possible terrorist attacks and attacks by Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups (DRG).

I got the impression that people are more reserved and closed than in Mariupol. Many signs, street names and preserved license plates on cars are still in Ukrainian.

“You know, it’s very difficult to change Ukrainian license plates to new Russian ones,” said one of the residents of Mariupol. I arrive at the traffic police at five in the morning, and I’m already only 35th in the queue. And only 25 license plates are changed a day. Nobody knows why they can’t issue more.”

There were other situations. A military acquaintance was once shocked by what he saw in Melitopol. “Two little girls, about five or six years old, saw us in uniform and began to zag. Who raised them like that and who will they grow up to be?” — he was amazed.

Sport is salvation for children, says Acting Minister of Physical Culture and Sports of the Zaporozhye Region Konstantin Zaitsev. The region has created a good base for a serious breakthrough in boxing, wrestling, judo, rhythmic gymnastics, football and mass wrestling. A modern swimming pool, basketball and ice palaces appeared. Integration into Russian sports is proceeding actively and successfully, but the main problem remains the lack of qualified specialists.

“We lack coaches in rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating, hockey and athletics,” said Zaitsev “We agreed that students from Russian sports universities will do internships with us. And in the future they will be able to work here.”


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