A few months ago, football dominated the everyday life of the professionals of PFK Prykarpattya. Since the Russian invasion, that is no longer the case.

Almost two months after the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, a football club has decided to defend the country as part of the army. This was announced by the Ukrainian second division club PFK Prykarpattya from the city of Ivano-Frankivsk on Easter Sunday. Fourteen players and coaches “have sworn allegiance to the Ukrainian people”, it said on the club’s Telegram channel.

Even before that, the men had considered joining the Warriors, it said. “We were worried that we would hinder the work of the army’s professional fighters. That is why we have hesitated so far,” explained Vasyl Tsyutsyura, who normally plays in the second-division club’s forward line.

Those worries were apparently lifted from the team a short time later: “When we were told that we would be prepared step by step and taught all the basics of how to hold weapons, how to fight and how to defend Ukraine, we made the decision and joined the military,” Tsyutsyura said. “We were already taught how to use the machine gun. We were taught to disassemble it, clean it, shoot it. Everything has been explained to us.”

The club’s hometown, Ivano-Frankivsk, is in the west of the country, about 130 kilometres south of Lviv. So far, the region has been less affected by the war than, for example, the big cities of Kiev or Mariupol.