Sombre mood as Ukrainian football team receives gold medals


THE Kharkiv Masters football team from Ukraine, together with Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, wore black armbands and observed a minute of silence over the loss of their beloved goalkeeper Oleksandr Shcherbinin during the Asia Pacific Masters Games (APMG) 2018 prize presentation ceremony today.

The atmosphere at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was sombre as they wanted to honour Shcherbinin, who died of a heart attack yesterday (Sept 13). He had earlier collapsed in a hotel room at 6.55am and was rushed to Penang Hospital but efforts to revive him failed.

Some of the team members cried during the prize presentation ceremony while other players and officials had tears welled up in their eyes.

Shcherbinin was the goalkeeper of the Kharkiv Masters team that participated in the men’s 55-59 years age-group for the APMG 2018.

Kharkiv Masters were supposed to play Mongolia in their last match at USM today, but the latter decided to give a walkover as a mark of respect to Shcherbinin and the team.

Rashid, who coincidentally played for Kharkiv Masters at the APMG 2018, also gave away the prizes. He submitted an individual entry and as such was placed by the organisers to any team of their choice.

He presented the gold medals to the Ukrainian players and also hung a gold medal over a portrait of Shcherbinin which was held by a teammate.

Kharkiv Masters captain Olexsandr Luhanskyi, with tears in his eyes, struggled to say a few words.

“Thank you very much for the organisation as well as for the speedy assistance rendered to us. We appreciate it,” he said.

“Our team participated here since five days ago and today, my heart is broken because of what had happened (to Shcherbinin).

“He played for the Kharkiv team. He was living his dream, but this was his destiny.

“We will participate in next APMG in memory of Shcherbinin,” said an emotional Luhanskyi before leaving the field.

Rashid described Shcherbinin as one of the good players in his team and a polite man too.

“We were shocked of his sudden death, and we are still working with the authorities and the Ukrainian Embassy to help expedite the transportation of his body back to Kiev.

“Their family doesn’t need to come here as we managed to get the exemptions and his wife only needs to sign the necessary documents.

“I’m saddened by this incident and pray for his soul to rest in peace,” said Rashid.

Story by K.Thaarshenii
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad