Nazar, a 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee, was hosted at the Pithiviers Tennis Club.

Recruitment, for small sports clubs, occurs more at the beginning of the school year in September, and it is rare for new players to arrive on the verge of the summer holidays. But for this recruitment, the ordinary does not apply.

The recruit? Nazar, 12 years old. The club ? The Pitiverian Tennis Club. The young tennis player has been in France since early March, with his mother, Svitlana, and his sister, Sophia, 15.

Awesome, then decisions

Before ? They were in Kyiv. They are Ukrainians. When we say “before,” it means before February 24, and the invasion of the country by the Russian army. Nazar was far from imagining that his spring would be written in pieces on the Pithiverian clay, thousands of miles from his home. “The world of yesteryear” is an expression that takes on a whole new meaning for the small family.

In English, Svitlana – who like her children has been trying to learn French little by little for three months – recounts these days of fear. And before fear, bewilderment.

“When my husband told me ‘it’s war’, we didn’t want to believe it. We started calling each other, friends, acquaintances, we were all shocked, we didn’t know what to do.”

My cousins ​​in France begged me to come. We talked about it with my husband, and we decided it was best for me to leave, with the two kids, the most important thing was that they were safe. “

A historic precedent …

Here, history shows that he likes to stutter sometimes. This French part of the Svitlana family comes of a sister of his grandmother, who fled Ukraine due to a conflict, World War II.

The journey to those distant French roots finally began on March 2nd.

“It was terrible, there were a lot of people in the car, we were awake for seven hours, we could barely breathe.”

Then there was a bus to Poland. In Warsaw, one of his French cousins ​​came looking for Svitlana, Sophia and Nazar.

The trio stayed first in Vrigny, a few miles from Pithiviers, with a cousin. “He helped us a lot, when it cost him, he did everything for us,” sums up Svitlana, now a resident of Pithiviers. Not enough words of gratitude for all those who have helped their family on their way to the Loiret. From association volunteers in Poland to those at the Pithiviers tennis club.

Sometimes a sense of guilt is introduced.

“It could have happened to us that we had done something wrong, here we have everything, food, help, housing, security, while there … But I don’t want my children to have that feeling, let me tell them to be strong , think about the future “

With an eye always on the situation in Ukraine, it was therefore necessary to find the way to this future. Svitlana found work in a plastic packaging company. Far from her original profession -teacher-, then “The first few days were tough, but hey, I’m becoming a professional.” she smiled. The two children were admitted to Simone-Veil University. The eldest will be old enough to enter high school in September.

War in Ukraine: Justice is involved in the conflict

A very athletic young man

A Ukrainian friend, who also came to France (Nantes) to flee the war, could soon join Svitlana. “He left Ukraine mainly because his daughter is diabetic, after two weeks of war he found no more medicines.”

And always with this idea of ​​resuming the course (the short, rather, in this case) of a serene life, Nazar, then, is kicking the ball since last month. The Pithiviers Tennis Club opened its doors wide, its rackets. Nazar chases a childhood already full of sporting experiences : tennis, already, when he was very young, then diving and MMA (for Mixed Martial Arts, a combat sport that combines wrestling and boxing).

There is no doubt that in training, under the watchful eye of his coach Thomas, Nazar does things right.

Dimitri Crozet

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