Mariupol → Kyiv region

Female soccer players from Mariupol support themselves by making dumplings. Internally displaced women need meat grinders, dough mixer, and generator

Having no sponsors, the women's soccer team "Mariupol" has relied on itself for four years in a row. In their free from training time, the women prepare processed foods for sale: they make pelmeni, varenyky, chebureky, and pancakes. Fleeing Mariupol under shelling, the athletes lost their production shop. We are fundraising $8,750 to purchase equipment that will enable the team to resume production and continue to represent Mariupol in soccer competitions.

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Fundraiser is completed

We'll report on expenses after the launch of the production shop.

Detailed report

Februaary 21, 2023

Detailed report
December 2, 2023

Fundraiser is launched

The Ukrainian women's soccer championship is taking place right now. The team from Mariupol also takes part in it. The temporarily occupied city would not have been represented in the tournament if it was not for the determination and patriotism of the Mariupol female athletes.

Independent of sponsors

Seven years ago, the “Mariupol” team, upon arriving at the competition, learned that it had been removed from the tournament due to the fraudulent actions of the club's management. Then one of the players, 25-year-old Yana Vynokurova, decided that in the future she would manage the club herself. Together with the couch and friend Karina Kulakovs’ka, they assembled the team and set up the training process. She paid all expenses from her own pocket, earning as the owner of children's attractions and a small cafe.

Photo: Roman Pashkovskiy

Playing in the first league, the women did not receive salaries as professional soccer players, so they had to support themselves by other means. Among the players, there was a policewoman, a repairwoman from "Azovstal", and a physical education teacher. Some athletes worked part-time in Yana Vynokurova's cafe, which already had a workshop for the production of pelmeni and varenyky. Yana herself was simultaneously an entrepreneur, manager of a soccer team, and its player.

Yana recalls: "Everyone told us that we would lose enthusiasm after a year, that we need a professional structure, and that we don't have anything: neither a bus nor a base, nothing”. “But when we became champions, the attitude towards us changed. Not the least from the city council, which later took over the financing of our competitions".

Head of the the "Mariupol" team Yana Vynokurova. Photo: Albert Murashevskyi

21 days under shelling in Mariupol

Having won the tournament in the first league, the soccer players from Mariupol have now set the goal of becoming top league champions. They steadily took seventh place, then fifth, and then rose to fourth. Then the war began. Seven players gathered in Yana's house. The women cooked food on the fire and hid in the basement during shelling. On the 21st day, they all got into Yana's Renault Logan and reached Zaporizhzhia in twenty-nine hours. On their way, they saw people abandoning cars that had run out of fuel, who walked along the roadside in the cold with children in their arms. Yana Vynokurova, together with the team's coach Karina Kulakovs’ka, decided to return to Mariupol to save people. In Vinnytsia, the women found a bus and a driver who agreed to go with them, and as a result, more than a hundred Mariupol residents were taken out of the war-torn city.

Yana lost everything in the war. Her house was destroyed, and the workshop was almost completely ravaged by looters. In the summer, she moved to Bulgaria with her mother and the team. Abroad, the women found other refugees who missed Ukraine and especially Ukrainian food. Yana realized that her team's culinary skills would come in handy here.

Yana says: "We started with hot lunches. Then we were preparing what we know best: pelmeni, pancakes, and chebureks. Then we added kebabs. Soon we had a restaurant on wheels. In three months, we reached the profit we had been working towards for years in Mariupol! People did not want to let us go. But we are mad about soccer. The championship was right around the corner and we decided to return."

Photo: Albert Murashevskyi

Today, the "Mariupol" team lives in a rented house near Kyiv and participates in the Ukrainian women's soccer tournaments, not giving up on the dream of becoming champions. As before, the women do not have sponsors and provide for themselves: training in the morning, and making pelmeni, varenyky, chebureky, and pancakes in the afternoon.  

In order for the business to be profitable, the team is looking for an opportunity to scale up production and needs equipment. They need a conveyor welder, a dough mixer, an electric dough rolling pin, stainless tables, a meat grinder, a generator, scales, a blender, etc. The total sum is $8,750.

Join the fundraiser that will allow the women from Mariupol to provide for themselves, represent their hometown in soccer competitions, and eventually win the championship.



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