Victoria hockey club in Rotterdam welcomes Ukrainian under-21s women’s team

The entire Ukrainian women’s under-21 hockey team have left their home country and are being given shelter by the Victoria hockey club in Rotterdam.

The team arrived early last week and much of the club house has now been given over to the new ‘members’ who are living in the changing rooms and a board room while more permanent accommodation is being sought.

Nearby companies and shops have provided food, toiletries and sports equipment to the young women, many of whom left with very little, the club’s website said.

‘Every player has their own story and it is our job to offer them space and respect,’ the announcement said.

The escape to Rotterdam began with a phone call to hockey coach and trainer Michel de Lange by the Ukrainian hockey association asking for help. De Lange’s wife is from Ukraine and played hockey for her country.

He set about trying to find a suitable place where the women could stay, using his contacts to locate a ‘training camp’ – such as a holiday park where the women could stay. After drawing a blank, Rotterdam hockey club Victoria opened its doors to welcome the team.

‘They had prepared and thought about so many things,’ De lange told broadcaster NOS. ‘They’d sorted education, medical help, dormitories where they could sleep. They were completely ready.’

The team left Ukraine in a bus, travelling to the Netherlands via Poland and Germany.

‘It was very difficult to leave my friends and family but my parents are happy I am safe,’ Anastasiia Bahmet told NOS. ‘I cannot describe how warmly we have been welcomed.’

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