And the award goes to… Darijo Srna
Darijo Srna gets it. The Shakhtar Donetsk captain understands what the kids of Donetsk are going through, the bleak situation in eastern Ukraine and the dislocation and despair of growing up in a civil war. He was a half-Bosnian, half-Croatian kid back when Yugoslavia was tearing itself to pieces, so Srna can empathize with young Shakhtar fans in Donetsk, now the de facto capital of rebel-held territory.
Shakhtar has had to leave Donetsk, driven clear across the country by the fighting—which has seen their home stadium blasted by artillery—to Lviv in the west, where they can play “home” matches in safety.
Because the team’s young fans have lost so much, Srna is giving them something: 20 tonnes of tangerines, the same bright orange as Shakhtar’s club colours, bought and shipped at Srna’s expense from groves around his hometown in Croatia to 23,134 students at primary schools around Dontesk—just about every kid still in the war-torn city.
“I also went through a period when I needed help,” Shakhtar’s captain said. “Donetsk has helped me a lot and this is just a small gift with which I want to pay them back.”
A gift and a message, from one child of war to tens of thousands of others: Your team and its captain have not forgotten you.