From the battlefield to the pitch: Ukraine's war amputees find solace in football

Amputee veterans training in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Amputee veterans training in Lviv, western Ukraine. Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
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Euronews Correspondent Giorgia Orlandi spoke with a group of veterans showcasing the transformative power of football despite their injuries.


Ukraine has launched its first football club for amputee veterans, providing wounded soldiers with a therapeutic outlet and a chance to regain their strength.

Bohdan Melnyk, who coaches the team in Lviv, western Ukraine, told Euronews that he prefers rehabilitation training.

"It’s better for me to work with amputee players," he said, "because I am providing physical support through coaching but also psychological support.”

Most of the soldiers on the team suffered severe injuries while in combat.

"You could feel some different emotions but for me, I think that football always was some kind of therapy, when I can relax, when I could regenerate my mind. I could just forget about anything just playing football, just concentrating on the thing which I love," said veteran Valentin Osovskyy.

The team's determination extends beyond recreation; they recently showcased their resilience at an international championship.

"[We played a] tournament, for example, and it was in Poland," Osovskyy says. "For us maybe it was kind of revenge to show that Ukraıne's spirit is unbreakable and I want to show that we are strong and we are proceeding to fight."

Some 40,000 people, mostly soldiers, have lost limbs as a result of Russia's war in Ukraine, according to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office.

Back on the battlefield, Kyiv’s forces are hoping for more military supplies from Ukraine’s Western partners, but in the meantime are struggling against a bigger and better-provisioned Russian army that is pressing hard at certain front-line points inside Ukraine. 

The club aims to inspire other former soldiers and promote the sport's therapeutic benefits.

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