Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ukraine Shines for Euro 2012

The European football (soccer) championships, Euro 2012, are going on now in Poland and Ukraine.  The games started on 8 June and go to 1 July.  Euro 2012 games are co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine (wikiphotos above) . In Ukraine the games are being held in the great cities of Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk, going from west to east.

I wrote about the planning for Euro 2012 when I lived in Staroblesk, Ukraine, 2009-2011, expressing some worry about whether or not the new stadiums and roads would be finished, and voicing the hope that the games would shed a good light on the country I came to love, its people, culture, built and natural environment, and traditions.

Photos by Vasyl Stefurak, Kyiv day and night (stadium & moon),
and at the games.
I'm not watching all the games, but from what I have seen, Ukraine looks beautiful.  I've followed the news, and was especially happy to get on-the-ground Kyiv photos from my Peace Corps regional manager Vasyl Stefurak.  Vasyl is from western Ukraine, studied English in the US, and is a scholar and wonderful photographer with a great perspective and good sense of humor.  He loves his country, and his photos show it; his patriotism is contagious.

Ukraine did not win its game, and there remains some controversy about a goal that was not counted, but I think the country is earning some accolades.  A soccer-loving friend here in my hometown, who is watching every game, said the stadiums, the cities and the Ukrainian people look beautiful, the women with garlands of flowers in their hair, the men painted, all enthusiastic fans.  Those of us who love Ukraine want it to grow and shine.  So far, the games are helping build a sense of pride, unity, and hope for the future.  ура украина!

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