Vyacheslav Onishchenko takes us inside the world of Ukrainian ultras, capturing the fire and passion in this relatively new group of football supporters.
I am not one of the ultras of Odessa football club - The "Chernomorets".
Rather, I'm “Kuzmich” - a casual fan with a camera.
As a child, when I went to football matches, I was always interested in the fan stand, this energy, these people. Who are they? Why do they so passionately support the club? What is this parallel world?
I got into this environment by accident. I wanted to explore and understand the difference between a chaotic gathering, a crowd and a large group, passionate about one idea of people. I went to Sevastopol, Kiev, Kalinovka (Kiev region). To immerse myself in the culture of the Ultras.
Ukrainian ultras are a young phenomenon. First coming on the scene in the 1980's.
I specifically do not show one hero. Ultras is a community. The identity of the participants is erased.
It is a single organism with a common intellect and energy. I do not idealise anyone. These people create the atmosphere in the stadium, thanks to which the players give all their best.
A football match is not a competition of 22 rich players on the field. It is much, much more.
The work of these guys is the "spirit" of football, fans give them their soul.
This is not just going to the stadium with beer once a week. Guys prepare for principle matches in advance - draw banners and posters, often with their own money. I admire the coordinated actions of these guys, the clear work of the leaders, I feel the strings that are stretched from heart to heart.
The ultras are a phenomenon of modern subculture.
They have an impact on club policies. They themselves maintain order in the sector. They wear a certain style of clothing, they have their own slang.
For example, "schizit" is a super active support.
The tribune is traditionally behind the gate. The group always has a “recharger” and a drummer. In the “movement” everyone obeys the rules: to in any way inspire their team, make the players fight until the final whistle, attend all the matches, do not sit, do not stop in support, Do not use pipes, do not drink alcohol, no smoking, do not be a coward and be proud of “their” players who were born in their native Odessa.
I realize now, that football supporters are not a crowd, but a group in which it is easier to achieve a goal - Ukrainian ultras prove it is possible to support your favorite team in an organized manner.