How far would you travel for a match – how about 16,783km?
Personally I need around 40 minutes to get to the Olympic Stadium, where Ukraine opened their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with a memorable victory against Sweden yesterday. In order to get to the Kyiv venue, however, the people I am speaking to took about 40 hours longer. That's how much time Eduard and his family required to fly here from Auckland.
It was 12 hours initially from New Zealand's biggest city to Hong Kong and the same amount of time to reach Moscow. After a five-hour wait, they caught the short flight to Kyiv's Boryspil airport, and finally Eduard, his wife and sons Andriy, 13, and Vadym, eight, were in position.
There was no way the native Kyivan was going to miss this match, despite having lived and worked in New Zealand for six years. A lifelong football fan, Eduard tried to never miss an FC Dynamo Kyiv home game at the old Republican Stadium – which has now been rebuilt as the Olympic Stadium.
He also used to journey long distances for Dynamo and Ukraine away fixtures, and may have made even more trips had circumstance not led him to a land where rugby and cricket are king. Eduard still watches a lot of football on television, but there is nothing like being there.
"We decided to travel to EURO 2012 in April 2007 – just after the host nations were named," he told UEFA.com. "It was rather hard to make all our plans, but finally all obstacles were overcome. We bought the tickets and I took leave together with my wife. We even agreed all the details with the heads of our children's schools. They were allowed to come with a present in the form of a load of homework. But most importantly, we are here and we are happy."
They will be staying for the month and will be at four of the five matches held in Kyiv. Monday's result has surely already made their odyssey worthwhile.
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