ON-LOAN Kelty footballer Max Kucheriavyi has bravely opened up on the “humanitarian catastrophe” that his family and friends are currently going through in Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
The midfielder has relatives based in the centre of Kyiv and as a show of support for those closest to him, the 19-year-old launched a crowdfunder to raise some much-needed money for those in need.
The GoFundMe page has already raised over £5,000 and Kucheriavyi admits the support is helping to boost his morale during distressing times.
“I am concerned with everything going on back home. I am sleeping much less than I normally do, but I can’t and won’t complain,” he explained.
“The support has been a really nice gesture. I feel the support from people in Scotland and people in Ukraine feel the support from everyone around the world. Hopefully everything finishes soon.
“My family had to leave their home in Kyiv, not far but still to a safer place. Fortunately, they had a chance to leave Kyiv, but a lot of people didn’t have that chance.
“I know people who have had to sleep in bunkers. People who do not have heating or electricity. In some areas, they don’t have any internet or phone connections so they can’t get in contact with their families.”
Kucheriavyi, who is on loan at Kelty Hearts from parent club St Johnstone, continued: “I have friends from east Ukraine and one of my best friends is from Mariupol.
“It is close to Donetsk and in Mariupol, it is a humanitarian catastrophe just now.
“Fortunately, my friend could leave the city, but his family are still there and they get in touch with him very, very rarely as they don’t have any internet.
“My other friend is stuck in his training ground with his team-mates and they don’t have any heating or electricity and food is finishing.
“It is very hard to give them any humanitarian help as they just don’t want to stop shooting people. It is so hard to provide any help.
“It is hard for them but hopefully it will stop soon and the government can arrange some green corridors for civilians who want to live their normal lives.”
Kucheriavyi is in constant contact with his family while still playing for Kelty and training with St Johnstone on a daily basis.
As hard as it has been to continue with his everyday routine, the midfielder admits that football is currently his only escape from the war taking place in his homeland.
He continued: “It is harder than it normally is, but football is the only thing I can do to get away from my phone and stop thinking about the world back home.
“The club have given me all the support they could. I know that if I need to talk to someone or ask anyone for help, they will be there to help me.
“I have always been proud to be Ukrainian but I feel the country is more united than it has ever been.
“Ukrainian people from all over the world are trying to help as much as they possibly can.
“I believe we are stronger now than we have ever been. We are united and I know when it stops we will be even stronger.
“We will build the best Ukraine and build our futures. The next generation will live the best possible way.”
You can donate to Kucheriavyi’s GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jdyud2-help-back-home