Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kharkiv Metalist Football Game

Its everyone's favorite time of the year.... football season! And I'm not just talking about American football or college gamedays, it is professional football (soccer) season here in Ukraine too. I went to a Kharkiv Metalist football game last weekend with a few other Peace Corps Volunteers from my oblast. Metalist is the name of the professional team here in Kharkiv, each major city in Ukraine has a professional team. One cool thing about living close to the 2nd largest city in Ukraine is that we have one of the better football teams :) Kharkiv will also host some of the EuroCup 2012 matches so we got a sneak preview of the renovated stadium.

Brooks, Sam, and Kyle.
We all bought some Metalist gear so we could fit in with the fans.
The Metalist Stadium is located at the Sportivna Metro stop. I thought this area would be much busier, since it is the location of one of the EuroCup stadiums but its actually fairly residential. There is a bazaar (open-air market) behind the stadium, but everything else around it is high rise apartment buildings. We tossed around an American football on the lawn across the street from the stadium, which drew some questioning looks from Ukrainians passing by but it was fun to hang out on gameday.

Can you believe how empty these fields are? These would be packed if this was a college gameday in America.
 We got tickets all together and sat in the 5th row for only 40 griven - the equivalent of $5 USD!! How crazy is that? I can't believe that tickets to a professional sporting event were so inexpensive... after working for a year at Aspire with GT Athletics to sell football and basketball season tickets, such a low price seems crazy to me.

Whitney and I rocking our Metalist gear.
Everyone holds up their scarves like this.
One thing that I thought was interesting - you know how in a college football stadium, the student sections traditionally sit on both endzones? At this Metalist game, there were also two specific cheering sections of hardcore Metalist football fans seated in the end zones. And they had someone who acted as a drum major and coordinated the stadium cheers, like when to raise the scarves and when to stomp/clap to a chant. It was a fun atmosphere and reminded me a lot of home!

All the fans holding up their scarves together.
The fans in the front holding up Metalist flags.
The sea of fans dressed in yellow jerseys, down at the other end zone.
Our group sitting together!

The game was Kharkiv Metalist vs. Arsenal Kyiv and it ended up being 0-0 in overtime. I hate to admit this, but the top team in Ukraine is probably the Donetsk Shaktars (coal-miners), followed by Dynamo Kyiv. I'm not sure if this was considered a big game or not, but there seemed to be a ton of football fans there. Its times like these that I wish I had one of those fancy DSLR cameras instead of my 6-year old Canon Powershot... but oh well, at least I have a working camera even if I can't take professional-quality sports photos haha.

Such a squeaky clean new stadium... have you ever seen a blue jogging track before?
Players marching out onto the field.

Me, Jillian and Whitney at halftime! I will miss my group 37 friends when they leave.
A corner kick?


Post a Comment