What is your name and home field location?
Russell Sabatini. We practice at the Ukrainian American Sport Center in Horsham, PA.
What is your connection to Ukraine?
I was born and raised in Ukraine. Currently, I am representing the Ukrainian Nationals Club in the US.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
Last year’s participation was a great success (semifinalists) and we look forward to building upon that.
What was your favorite moment from last year’s tournament?
Quarterfinal game against Team USA and the penalty shoot-outs!
How did your team come together?
Many of the guys have been practicing together for years, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s our original club Holland United was formed, where we played three times a week, with pickup games all around Philly and now in Richboro, PA. Currently, the club has over 60 active members! We participate in other leagues and sometimes we hold our own one-day tournaments. We played in various leagues in the area and now we are playing in the United Soccer League of PA, in which we won our division last year!
Why is soccer important to you personally?
I played soccer all my life, and soccer is by far the number one sport in Ukraine. It’s a way to stay fit and see all my friends more often in this busy life.
How has soccer made your life better?
I get my head away from the day-to-day hustle, meet a lot of great people and stay connected with the community that way.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
It is one of the most popular sports and soccer players have become role models for many kids these days. It has the best fundamental ability to develop kids’ physiology from very early childhood, they start playing at age four or sometimes earlier! It’s a great sport for motivation and fitness, among other things!
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
Exactly how I explained above… With the Unity Cup, it adds the ability to wear pride for your native country, show your culture a little, and meet so many great people and nations, sometimes even learn new countries for some people. Very bright idea by our Mayor Jim Kenney!
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Ukrainian culture?
There are many places around Northeast Philly, just drive along Bustleton Ave and you will see many restaurants and stores!
Ukrainian American Sport Center (Tryzub) – Lower State & Country Line Rd, Horsham, PA
Ukrainian League of Philadelphia – 800 N 23rd Street, Philadelphia, PA
The Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center – 700 N Ceder Road, Jenkintown, PA
St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church – 1013 Fox Chase Road, Jenkintown, PA
Ukrainian Selfreliance FCU – Philadelphia
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Ukraine?
That we are not part of any other country, but the biggest country in continental Europe with our own identity, culture, sovereignty, and history. We are a very kind, friendly and welcoming nation with beautiful land. I can go on and on, but will stop now…