Ukrainian kids play soccer in bombed-out stadium

STORY: The Champion stadium was heavily damaged in the weeks that followed Russia's invasion, when Russian forces reached the outskirts of Ukraine's capital and occupied parts of the city of Irpin.

The stadium's walls are still pockmarked with bullet holes, but much of the shrapnel has been cleared away and holes in the pitch from mortar bombs have been plugged.

Danylo Kysil, 26, a coach at the stadium and director of the Olymp Irpin team, took part in the clean-up.

"When we saw the stadium with the first people who came after the liberation, it was very grim. There was shrapnel and rubbish everywhere," Kysil told Reuters after leading a group of around a dozen boys in soccer drills.

Asked how he felt when he welcomed the children back to training, Kysil said: "I needed to show everything was fine on the outside, so the kids wouldn't feel my emotional exhaustion."

Eleven-year-old Denys Voitovych, who plays midfield for Olymp Irpin, said he was relieved to be back on the pitch.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting