Ukrainian refugee children accompany Flora, Levadia on to field

Ukrainian refugee children ahead of taking the field as mascots before Sunday's Tallinn derby.
Ukrainian refugee children ahead of taking the field as mascots before Sunday's Tallinn derby. Source: ERR

Sunday was a day to remember for several Ukrainian children who have, with their families, fled Russia's invasion of that country to live in Estonia, as they took to the field ahead of the Tallinn derby clash.

The children, who numbered around 20, all resident in Lääne-Harju municipality, stepped out as mascots alongside FC Flora and FC Levadia players before the match at the A. Le Coq Arena, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported.

There are around 250 refugees from Ukraine now living in the municipality, with 60 of them school- or kindergarten-aged children.

Jaanus Saat, the municipality's mayor, told AK that: "All those refugees who want to work have a workplace, while the children are attending schools and kindergartens. Life has started to function; they are already turning into ordinary members of our society."

One boy, Sasha, told AK that taking the field was: "Like I'm playing, and it's very cool," while his mother, Irina, added that Sasha had played and watched football at home.

"Most of the time I'm at work, but we try to go out on the weekends. We wanted to go see something. This is the first event we have been able to get to," she said.

Mayor Saat said that the invite to take part – the idea was the brainchild of Flora's community leader - had come as a pleasant surprise.

He said: "There's been a lot of aid really coming in. They are involved as much as possible in all sorts of different activities and events."

The smaller children were seen taking the pitch hand-in-hand with the players, while older children bore flags, AK reported (link in Estonian).

In the event, Flora won 2:0.

Meanwhile in a more somber event in central Tallinn, memorial candles were lit and placed in Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) to commemorate the over 200 children who have been slaughtered by the Putin regime's forces since the invasion began two months ago, as well as the estimated 360+ who have been injured.

The original AK slot of the Vabaduse väljak commemoration (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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