Youth soccer team from Ukraine celebrates winning the USA Cup in Blaine
A team of boys from Ukraine is celebrating winning the USA Cup in Blaine after a 4-1 win over a Wisconsin team.
The Ukrainian players from the FC Minaj Team explained the game gives them an escape from the troubles back home.
When Andrii Ketsuk, FC Minaj player, steps on the soccer field, he said for once, he feels in control.
“As soon as I got the ball between my feet, I knew it was my passion and I wanted to be a professional footballer,” Ketsuk said. “It’s not easy, but I like it.”
He fell in love with the game at six years old when life was different.
For over a year, Russia has been at war with Ukraine.
Thousands have died and millions were forced to leave their homes. The destruction tarnished the memory of the place he calls home.
“Pray and don’t forget about the troubles. We are all one people, one nation under God,” he said.
While the team played through the Target USA Cup, they had support from soldiers back home.
“They have joy. They support us and they watch the live stream on our page and they’re cheering for us,” Rufolf Balazhinec, FC Minaj coach, said.
Balazhinec brought the team to the tournament last year with the help of donations from a Minneapolis organization. The team placed second in last year’s competition.
He calls the soccer field a place where the team can leave all their worries on the field.
The winning moment gave the players a reason to smile and forget for the first time in a while.
Coach Balazhinec said the team had plans to celebrate with pizza after the big win.