Hlib Kuian, is a 21-year-old from Irpin and loves playing soccer with his friends despite the precarious conditions caused by the war and the Russian attacks that have damaged the infrastructure in recent weeks, electricity and internet connection come and go.
As night falls, his team finds himself together with others on the pitch of a public park in the western suburb of Kyiv occupied by the Russians at the beginning of the invasion and then returned to Ukrainian control.
The teams have purchased lights to illuminate the pitch and power them with an old car battery recharged on the sidelines.
“We changed the car battery and recharged it,” Hlib says, “So we can play 10 hours a day while the car battery is working.”
In better times they would have preferred to play in the largest stadium in Irpin, now marked by bomb craters, but the desire to play football is stronger and the pitch in semi-darkness is enough and goes on. Another small sign of resilience in a war-torn country.
After the game everyone at the “kebab” to watch a World Cup match. Minutes before kick-off, shop owner Mashrabjan Haydarov noticed that the lights had gone back on in an apartment building across the street, so he turned off the outdoor generator that powers his bulbs and his TV and reconnected to the local power grid.
“Yesterday I didn’t have internet”, and without the internet Hlib says, “I can’t study, I can’t work, I can’t solve my problems, I can’t talk to my friends and the worst thing is that I can’t watch football”.
The electricity has returned just in time for Wales v England to kick off and Hlib and his friends are delighted to be able to enjoy the game.