FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Abandoned by time, Russian provinces cherish World Cup cheer

WORLD CUP: Halfway between Moscow and Saint Petersburg in a city abandoned by time, the ball pings across the slushy snow as boys emulate the stars who will shine at the World Cup.

FootballWorld-CupAFP

Saturday 9 June 2018, 12:00PM


Boys play football in a snow-covered yard in the city of Veliky Novgorod. Photo: Konstantin Chalabov / AFP

Boys play football in a snow-covered yard in the city of Veliky Novgorod. Photo: Konstantin Chalabov / AFP

More than a thousands years old, Veliky Novgorod has followed the fate of many other historic Russian cities, losing its lustre and burdened by the grim realities of provincial life.

But social problems seem that little bit less important as the world’s most celebrated sports event approaches, filling abandoned corners of Russia with the thrill of the beautiful game.

Watchful parents are bundled up in parkas while their children zip around a fenced-in courtyard stripped down to their sweatshirts and woolly hats, elastic scarves around their necks.

The fence is made of steel beams covered in peeling rust, painful to bounce off of and emblematic of the life of hard knocks Veliky Novgorod has endured since the Soviet Union’s fall.

Yet the focus here is squarely on football, which in the northern Russian springtime is played by kids in conditions more suitable to skiing.

The boys come prepared. They split up into teams, dressed in jerseys with numbers on their backs.

QSI International School Phuket

Each has his own pair of football boots, some new and some worn, which surprisingly maintain a solid grip on the mix of snow and ice packed tightly into the ground.

A deep-blue sky above and decrepit apartment blocs around them, the boys hop, skip and dream – each conjuring up a fantasy of playing in a World Cup of their own.

A flock of pigeons spring up from the skeletal trees, scared off by the shrieks of sheer joy that football brings to every corner of Russia – even ones unfamiliar with big city comforts.

They kids take breathers plunked down on mounds of snow, puddles forming around them under the first licks of the sun’s warmth.

And once completely exhausted, the boys pack up their footballs in a big net sack, toss them in the car trunk along with their dreams – until the next game.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

 

Phuket community
Storm-struck Jungceylon reopens after all-night repairs

......and still you get wind speed wrong. 35 kms/hr is just over 20 mph. The gusts were approximatel...(Read More)


Police hunt mature-age jealous ex, age 51, for suspected car arson

Dangerous little man with the mentality and brain power of an 8-year old....(Read More)


Storm lashes Phuket

Seems you have made the same mistake as your competitor newspaper. Wind speeds of 16 km/hr?? Don'...(Read More)


Phuket student takes on survey of public transport, tuk-tuk and taxi fares

I applaud this students initiative and PN for their help. 50 responses should not be a problem. So...(Read More)


Thailand leads MICE surge

Did I miss something? What is this self promoting MICE thing? Passing by all the life threatening...(Read More)


Court seizes B21m more from former Pheu Thai MP, B168mn already seized

Well, some more years the tables will be turned. Then the ex junta generals go to face the same. Aft...(Read More)


Concerns over Phuket wild monkeys as they risk entering homes to steal food

It looks like deporting monkeys to these small islands is a artificial creation of quick natural sta...(Read More)


Government incapable of ending graft, says poll

This Junta Government has all the instruments to end grafts as it is strong in power by side-lining ...(Read More)


Rainbow Warrior arrives in Phuket with a clear message

"Greenpeace's unsolicited & un-needed advice?" Unsolicited, sure, the last thing ...(Read More)