What’s Ukrainian for Football?

NikaNika

This is the second Girls FC title being released this week and it’s the one that made my editors cry.  Now that’s an accolade!  I’m proud of this one, too. It’s my first novel using a real event from the past; in this instance a football match that became known as The Match of Death.

In my story, Nika and her family have come to live in England from the Ukraine so they can look after their ailing Uncle Stanislav.

Nika finds some of the language and customs in England difficult to grasp but she is happy in school and even happier on the football team. When Hannah, the coach, invites her to join them on a ‘World Cup’ tournament at the seaside, she is delighted.

As the draw is made for which team will get which country, the tension grows. Naturally, all the Parrs want England. Instead they get… Ukraine. Jenny-Jane is especially cutting about their given team. ‘Lame Ukraine,’ she says, ‘what have they ever won?’

Upset, Nika phones her uncle. ‘What have they ever won?’ he thunders. ‘Something more important than the world cup!’ he tell her.  What unfolds is the heartbreaking story of FC Start. When Nika re-tells her uncle’s version to the team, the atmosphere changes. Even Jenny-Jane can’t believe what happened in the name of football.

Read it and weep.  Walker Books November 3rd £4.99.

For grown ups, the story of FC Start is told by Andy Dougan in ‘Dynamo, defending the honour of Kiev’ (4th Estate).

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