Players in valenki played football match at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

The field was set next to the arena under construction
19 February 2016

Football match in valenki (traditional Russian winter footwear, felt boot) was held at the at the construction site of the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The teams of Stroytransgaz and the fans of FC Volga met in the first game at the construction site of the new arena.

The field was set next to the arena under construction - a mini-football field was set up and the format of the game (2 halves 15 minutes each, 5 field players + goalkeeper). The construction workers for the arena (Stroytransgaz) and Nizhny Novgorod natives - fans of FC Volga – participated in the first game.

Stroytransgaz also took a football fan as an additional player - Daria Stolbun whose sons play football, admitted she had to participate in the unusual match. The fans of FC Volga consisted not only from Nizhny Novgorod natives, but people from the Nizhny Novgorod, as well as employees of the club, for example, Advisor to the General Director Valeriy Mochalov.

Before the game as a warm-up, the teams set up competitions to get used to the unusual outfit. The Fans won the relay race, Stroytransgaz - accuracy strikes, and the winner was revealed in juggling, where two players participated from each team.  The Fans stopped at around 11 kicks in valenki, Stroytransgaz – at 12.

The match ended with the victory of The Fans with the score 2: 1. A penalty shoot-out was held after the game, also won by the Fans – 4:3. One of the goals was scored in an unusual way. A boot came off the Fans team player during a 6 meters shot, but he kept his cool and scored under the crossbar.

“In my opinion a very significant event happened today,” Stroytransgaz expert on general construction work Alexander Gusev said. “I have been working at the construction of the arena for a year and I am very glad that we held the first match, albeit purely for entertainment. I am proud I could participate. We can say that today we reaped the first fruits of our labor. I am sure this event inspired all participants. Personally, I felt a new surge of strength and energy to continue to do everything possible so that in 2018 Nizhny Novgorod sees a real football feast. As a Nizhny Novgorod native, I am very pleased that our city will host such an event. Which one is more difficult - to play football or to build a stadium? Build a stadium is, perhaps, more difficult, but playing football is much more pleasant," he added.

An activist of the Nizhny Novgorod Region Student Football League Stanislav Gopp also noted that the event was held in a pleasant atmosphere. "Just in 50 meters, a stadium is under construction for the World Cup,” he said. “I scored the first goal in this game. One can say – made history, so I feel great. It’s hard to play in valenki. Can we take it that we invented a new sport – football in valenki. The Russian version of beach football. And sometimes valenki come off during the game. So it was fun! Good memories are going to last for a long time. Especially since the organizers gave us these boots as a keepsake,” he said.