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Rus at Play

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Rus at Play

14.10.2021

Sergey Vinogradov

A significant contribution to the development of professional sports in Europe has been made by Russian players who stepped into the sporting field under the guidance of their parents either at home or in a strange land. Emigrants founded clubs, played at packed stadiums as if they had been sports superstars, and led teams to championships as coaches and managers. Sports clubs are still established by our compatriots today.


USSR national team on the Irish pitch

Dynamo Dublin plays in one of the lower leagues of the Irish championship. It brings together hundreds of representatives of the capital's Russian community to its matches. The players’ age ranges from 16 to 45. Dynamo has not yet had any major victories. Nevertheless, the club has already celebrated one title - the first Russian-speaking team in Ireland. Everything corresponds to the Russian standard, including white and blue colors, as well as a big "D" on a t-shirt.

Dynamo (Dublin), children's sports school

The club was founded in 2009 by Russian compatriots, including professional athletes. A year later, a children's sports school was opened with the support of the Russian embassy in Ireland. Russian-speaking parents from Dublin and the surrounding area brought their children to the school. Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Belarusians, and Lithuanians became players of the Irish Dynamo. Furthermore, Poles, Romanians, and Irish also come to practice.

Coaches use mixed Russian-English so that everyone can understand. But the Russian language is given the preference to. Training is paid for, which enables the club and school to exist. Players practice in one of the local parks, where deer roam and hares often run across the road. There are also local grants for the development of children's sports. It is not uncommon for Russian clubs that come to Ireland to visit Dynamo.

Teams with Russian names in the European championships were not always founded by Russians. One of the strongest amateur clubs in the Netherlands is the Kozakken Boys from Werkendam. It is a six-time national champion that was named in honor of the Don Cossacks who had liberated the city from Napoleon's troops in 1813.

The logo of the Kozakken Boys Clubз features a Cossack with a ball


Russian Vostok at Australia’s top

Nick Kimov is honored as a local volleyball legend in Australia. He is a descendant of Russian immigrants from Harbin. And indeed, his contribution to the development of local sports can hardly be overestimated. Nikolai Yevdokimov-Kuznetsov in his younger years played basketball, soccer, and volleyball for Russian teams in China.

Once in Australia in the early 1960s, he quickly found like-minded people in the Russian community. He recalls that the guys were interesting and sympathetic, but had no sporting ambitions. Nick Kimov and other enthusiasts were able to inspire the youth.

Australia, Sydney, 1965. Vostok volleyball team became the champion of New South Wales for the fourth time in a row

"We organized a Russian team, and called it Vostok," he recalls. In its early days, athletes used to practice after work in a park. Nevertheless, this club took its place in history as the winner of Australia's first club championship. The team exists to this day and is still in the public eye, but there are only a couple of Russians there. Nikolai Yevdokimov-Kuznetsov sometimes visits them and takes part in the training.

He achieved a lot in volleyball, played in the Australian national team for many years, was preparing for the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, but the country did not allocate money for the trip. After finishing his career in big sports, Nick Kimov became vice president of the New South Wales Volleyball Association.

Nick Kimov

Nabokov between sticks

Coaches at children's soccer schools admit that it can be a challenging task to find goalkeepers among the kids - everyone wants to run forward and score goals. That's because they haven't read Vladimir Nabokov. He was the one who dedicated powerful heartfelt lines to goalkeepers in

"I was obsessed with goalkeeping," wrote the author of Lolita. “In Russia and the Latin American countries, valiant art of goalkeeper has long been surrounded by a halo of particular romanticism. Fascinated boys follow an independent, lonely, impassioned, famous goalkeeper down the street... He is a lonely eagle, he is a man-enigma, he is the last defender.”

As a lone eagle, the young writer soared on the soccer fields of Russia, Great Britain, and Germany for about a decade and a half. He started at the age of 17, as a student at the Tenishev School in St. Petersburg, then continued in Cambridge, but was really able to reveal his skills in the Russian Sports Club in Berlin. In 1932 Nabokov had a hard hit on his head with the ball and he decided to retire from soccer devoting his mind entirely to writing.

Russian sports club in Berlin, 1932. Vladimir Nabokov - in the center (sitting). Photo credit: International Vladimir Nabokov Society

It is not known whether he met the Russian Karyagin brothers from Finland, who terrified goalkeepers all over Europe, in international competitions. The history of Finnish soccer speaks of three Karyagins - Alexander, Frans, and Leo. They became champions of Finland many times, were members of the Finnish national team, and played in the Olympics. That was in the warm season, but in winter the Russian brothers would skate and forge hockey gold.


To the soccer field after the Civil War

"Soccer is not a Russian game historically," Russian fans often claim after the national team fails in international competitions. Sergey Vershinin, a journalist and soccer chronicler from Gomel, who published his book Football and Russian Emigration can argue with this statement. He can also name more than a dozen Russian names that became known in the top tournaments of European countries 100 or more years ago.

I collected materials for 25 years,” he told the Russkiy Mir. “I was looking for information guides, books, newspapers, and when the Internet appeared, it became easier. I was able to thoroughly work on newspapers of the first half of the 20th century from France and other countries of Europe, China, South America. "

The successes of the first wave of Russian emigrants on the European fields show the power and quality of soccer in pre-revolutionary Russia where the athletes had started their path. “They were amazing people,” says the journalist. "Many of them went through the First World War and the Civil War, and after that, they returned to the soccer field and achieved success." The children of the first wave of Russian emigrants also made a good noise in the championships of different countries; some of them overshadowed the achievements of their fathers.

"Where could you see the most Russians? It was the championships in Romania and Bulgaria, for example; they even played for the national teams there," says Sergei. “Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland were not exceptions as well. There were a lot of Russian players in Finland. They were also in Germany and France playing for professional teams.”

The Juventus player Július Korostelev

Perhaps the greatest success in the world soccer arena was achieved by Julius Korostelev. His father was from Kaluga and his mother was from Crimea. After the revolution the family ended up in Czechoslovakia, Julius grew up among Russian immigrants who loved soccer. While still very young, he became the best player in Czechoslovakia and played for the national team, in 1945 he transferred to Juventus Turin, and he scored 15 goals in 30 games of his first season.

Russians have made their contribution to the development of soccer in different countries and in the coaching field. Sergey Vershinin talked about Robert Kapustin, who worked in Romania, Hungary, and the United States and had a lot of achievements under the name of Bob Kap.

After the revolution, the establishment of Russian clubs became a fairly frequent occurrence in different countries. They were mostly named Rus,” says Sergei Vershinin. “The most famous ones with this name were opened in Paris, Prague, and other cities and countries. In some countries, there were even more than one Rus playing.”



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