The Universal Language of Sport in Action

Sasha Stefanyshen (centre) with team mate, class mate and friend, Alex Hoare and Sasha’s mother, Lillian post match at the KDL on Saturday.


Peter Middleton at the helm with his repurposed Roscommon flag transferring Lillian Stefanyshen, second from left, along with Sasha’s friends to the KDL in Tralee on Saturday.
Mairéad Moriarty witnessed at first hand the healing and unifying power of sport and she writes about it here.

Sasha Stefanyshen, a 17 year old Ukrainian student studying at Mercy Mounthawk has been signed by Kerry FC. 

Wearing the all important No.4 jersey, Sasha is proving to be a valuable member of this League of Ireland squad. 

By: Mairead Moriarty

I first met Sasha through work I’m undertaking with Ukrainian students at Mounthawk Secondary School. 

During our first meeting, he was delighted to tell me not just about his love of soccer but about the friends he has made through Kerry FC.

When Sasha first arrived at his accommodation at the Earl of Desmond Hotel in Kerry, he walked into Tralee to find a soccer club.

Looking at Austin Stack Park he was thrilled to think that a town like Tralee would have such an impressive stadium. Once he made contact with Kerry FC, he realised that perhaps soccer wasn’t the number one sport in our county!

Earl of Desmond Hotel

Last Saturday, Sasha and his team took to the pitch at the Kerry District League in Tralee for his first home game – a league match against Cobh Ramblers.

To ensure that his mother, Lillian, and some of his newly forged friends from the Earl of Desmond could attend the game, a bus was organised. 

Thanks to the generosity of Billy Mangan Coaches, Knocknagoshel, who donated the bus plus the kindness of Peter Middleton, Brosna, who not only drove us but repurposed his native Roscommon flag for the occasion, the trip from the hotel to the game and back again was seamless.

A Social Outing

The Ukrainian girls, who are now a keen part of Kerry FC’s fan club, had never been to a football match before.

It was a fun social outing for them and they got to meet some of their Tralee school friends who came along to support Sasha and the team.

It wasn’t Kerry FC’s day, losing to Cobh 3-2. But I like to think that sport was the overall winner. 

Delighted to Help

Watching Sasha bring his talent and enthusiasm to his new club, seeing the support extended to him not just from the sidelines but from his teammates, reminds me that there are no borders when sport is played at its most authentic level.

John O’Regan of Kerry FC who welcomed all the Ukrainian fans to the KDL free of charge, summed it up:

“Sasha is a lovely fella.  You’d be delighted to help in any way.”

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