400 Ukrainian children can forget about war for a while at Philips Stadium

Four hundred Ukrainian children played sports in the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven on Tuesday afternoon. For a while they did not think about the war in their homeland, but relaxed with sports and games. One of them is 15-year-old Zhenya. Her father is fighting against the Russians, but she herself fled to the Netherlands. She is happy to forget the war for a very short time. "It does me good to play sports with new friends here," she says.

The children were challenged with different sports and games, such as basketball, soccer and an assault course. They could also have their picture taken with Phoxy, PSV's mascot. That's how Zhenya suddenly found herself on the center spot of the Philips Stadium. "Unbelievable that I'm standing here now. I think it's very big and beautiful."

"I'm glad I'm safe here."

She still thinks about the situation in Ukraine often. ''Almost non-stop. But I want to stay positive: life goes on. I'm glad I'm safe here. I've made new friends, so it's better this way."

But she does worry about her family who have stayed behind. "The mood there is subdued, but when I call them, they become happy. My father is fighting with them against the Russians. Through messages, we keep in touch."

The sports afternoon is an initiative of the Partnerfonds Brainport Eindhoven, a group of major PSV sponsors. According to chairman Staf Depla of the foundation, companies in the region are only too happy to help give the children some distraction. "Children have had to leave hearth and home without a father. Their lives go on too, so you wish them, just like any other child, an afternoon of fun playing."


"It's quite difficult, because how do you approach these kids?"

Volunteers from major companies in the region were only too happy to take time off to help. One of them is Guus Pennings: "I am very happy to do my part here."

Guus works at Philips. His boss gives him the opportunity to volunteer during working hours. When he heard about the Ukrainian Sports Day, he was eager to lend a hand. "It's quite difficult, because how do you approach these kids? Do you do it very festively or not, because after all, they are here for a certain reason. But generally you see that they are very relaxed anyway."