The bus driver shouts: Leverkusen! He doesn’t want passengers to miss their stop and continue on to Cologne. After all, Leverkusen belongs to the administrative district of Cologne. And it’s easy to get confused. There are simply no direct buses or planes to Leverkusen – those who want to get to the game first, as a rule, need to get to Cologne.
Leverkusen is not the dirtiest city, but it is far from the cleanest city. Here people enjoy autumn. An incredible amount of yellow fallen leaves on the road. Of course, the cleaning process is underway. There aren’t that many people on the streets. Although it is still morning, the first impression is that the city is very calm. There is no big traffic, rush and the like.
On the way to the Bay Arena we had to pass through a park. I came across one of the training complexes of a children’s and youth school. Very solid. A stadium with a fairly good artificial turf and good equipment around. It turned out that there are even several complexes with football fields in the park. Next are Bayer’s training fields.
Well, we are gradually approaching the Bay Arena itself, where the match will take place in the evening Ukraine – Italy.
It’s interesting that the Ukrainian national team lives in a hotel located right on the territory of the Bay Arena.
Nearby is the Ostermann-Arena, a multi-purpose sports complex where, among others, the Bayer basketball team plays.
True, the successes of basketball Bayer are not as serious as those of football “pharmacists”.
Met a young Ukrainian volunteer – Alexander from Ivano-Frankivsk shares his impressions:
“I am 16 years old, I come from Ivano-Frankivsk, I came to Germany 1.5 years ago. This is my first volunteer activity. I will work with the flags and prepare the arena for the match. I’m glad that I was allowed to do this work and that I can help our team in at least some way.
Expectations from the match? Many experts say that Italy should win, but my subjective opinion is that Ukraine has a chance to win a minimal victory today. Italy is a serious contender. I think we can win 1-0, I believe in our guys.”
McDonald’s is nearby, let’s go there for a snack. But the most delicious McDonald’s is in Ukraine.
I was surprised that there were actually no banners for the match in the surrounding area. Of course, the Germans are quite indifferent to the Italian-Ukrainian football passions. Volunteers note that there were many Italian fans in Cologne yesterday.
Next, we communicate with the coordinator who is responsible for bringing the children out of the football players at the beginning of the match. 34 year old Pavel Zhelezov says:
“There is a Ukrainian school, here in Germany, there are not many of them, in fact. But, it seems to me, in Dusseldorf it is one of the largest. Children who were born here but are citizens of Ukraine study there. And also refugee children who came during the war. And I received a request to help the Ukrainian Football Association coordinate and organize a group of children to bring football players to the game.
And at the match with Italy there will be guys from this school. There will also be children of refugees who live here in Germany, and children of military personnel. We also searched for a long time – I also really wanted to invite the children of the dead heroes. But, unfortunately, from a logistics point of view, we simply couldn’t do it. All the families I found and interacted with were either in Poland or the Czech Republic. In terms of logistics, it was a little difficult.
I’m actually a marketer. He worked as head of the marketing department at the third Bundesliga club KFC Uerdingen. I planned to move to Ukraine, I even had an interview at the Rukh football club. Last year we already agreed that I was supposed to work there, but the war started.”
The football players of the Ukrainian national team left the hotel for a traditional walk around the city.
And Ukrainian volunteers have already begun work at the stadium. There will be a cardboard flag of Ukraine on every seat in the Bay Arena.
There is less and less time left until the main match of the fall…
Daniil AGARKOV, Sport.ua, Leverkusen
PHOTO. BayArena and surrounding area on match day (photo Sport.ua)
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