The head of Dynamo delegation in Köln, Dynamo U14 coach Yuriy Yastrebinskyi, goalkeeper coach Volodymyr Ikonnikov and Dynamo U14 player Yaroslav Kharkevych answered local media questions at the first training session in Germany.
- I’ve been working in youth football for over 25 years while at Dynamo youth school – since 1999. I’ve dedicated 23 years to this glorious Ukrainian club and I’m proud we represent it inside the country and outside it. I would really like to thank Germany, FC Köln and local authorities for caring for our boys.
I just want to tell what impressed me, what kind of feelings I experience. When I look into the sky and see a plane here, I know I don’t need to hide as it’s not enemy, who came to invade our country. These are just people going on business or on vacation.
Air alert in Kyiv was on for about 515 hours. This time was stolen from our kids. Our players and coaches are patriots of our country and our club. We did everything we could to save the team. Everyone had a choice, but 80-90% of players stayed with Dynamo. This became possible due to our partners, friends from Germany and people who genuinely care.
Early in this war, one of our players Yaroslav Kharkevych and his brothers made a video about russian aggression. Our children have experienced the war although we want them to focus on football.
- The situation in Ukraine is tough. The war is on, but we’re hanging. Guys practiced as much as it was possible. Our players are strong mentally. We believe in our victory in all fronts.
- What kind of training conditions did you have in Kyiv?
- As the war broke off, Dynamo direction did everything to take boys from club academy to safe places. In May, June and July they were training at our facility in Ukraine, but obviously constant air alerts and stress influenced children a lot.
Three of our teams have come to Germany. Guys, who were abroad, are going to join us here.
- What kind of horizons would you have had in Ukraine if you didn’t receive the invitation from Köln?
- It would have been tough. Beside security issues, we don’t currently have the Ukrainian youth league, there’re no official matches. It’s even hard to focus on ordinary training sessions because of war.
- How did you react to this invitation to Köln?
- We were very positive about it. Parents won’t have to worry. It’s also easier for coaches, when they and kids can focus on the training process. First of all our duty is to preserve boys’ mental state and football future. We’re very thankful for this opportunity.
- What did you feel when you got out of the bus in Köln?
- We were glad we finally arrived as it was a long road. We were happy to be in safety, where nothing threatens our lives. We’re very thankful for warm greetings and comfort they’ve created here. We wanted to show that we’re proud to be Ukrainians. Maybe we’ll learn something new from your coaches. It’s great not to hear air alerts, boys can have a sleep, have rest and focus on football. They don’t have to face war every day. We’ll keep working and moving towards our victory.
- What are your plans for the upcoming week?
- I hope we’ll be able to practice and play friendlies. We need to get back to our rhythm as we’ve come here to save our youth football.
Yaroslav Kharkevych (speaking English):
- How did you react when you found out you would go to Germany?
- I was really happy as I realized the whole team would be together and that we would practice safely, with no air alerts. We had sessions every day in Kyiv, but those were interrupted frequently. When we heard the alert, we had to spent an hour or two in the bomb shelter. It’s hardly possible to continue training after that as you’re worried about your parents and loved ones.
- How do you feel now that you can practice peacefully and focus on football?
- That’s great as when war broke off guys went to different cities and countries, but now we can spend time together.
- What are your plans for the future? What do you want to achieve?
- We want to demonstrate that Ukrainians are strong nation. These are harsh times, but I hope that won’t last long. I hope each of us will become a professional player featuring for Dynamo or European top clubs.