On Wednesday, Brazil and Ukraine met in the opening match of the World Cup at Arena Nord, Frederikshavn, Denmark. Despite the game being played on Danish soil, one could easily mistake it for a Ukrainian home ground. The arena was filled with numerous Ukrainian fans in the spectator seats, and the blue and yellow colors were everywhere.
“It was very exciting. We saw a lot of Ukrainian fans. So far, we are very grateful for them. They come here to support us. We want to say thank you so much to them. I know that this wasn’t the start we were expecting. I know we can do better. And we will show this,” said Andriyana Naumenko, who is the playmaker for the Ukrainian national team, during the press conference on Wednesday after the match.
Despite the outcome of the match, which ended 35-20 in favor of Brazil, the support from the Ukrainian fans was unmistakable.
The many Ukrainian fans were invited to attend the opening match, and their enthusiasm was strongly felt in the arena, where there was clapping, cheering, and singing along to the Ukrainian national anthem.
This is a great example of what major sporting events like the Handball World Cup and other major championships can do – bring people together across cultures.
Before the opening match, the Ukrainian fans had an experience in the North Jutland region as they all went on a day trip to Skagen. A network of private businesses had organized the trip, which included both cultural and natural experiences, including a visit to Grenen, where the two seas, Skagerak and Kattegat, meet.