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How an amputee soccer team is helping Ukrainian soldiers overcome the trauma of war

Valentyn Romaniuk enlisted in the Ukrainian army the day after the Russian invasion in February 2022. Sixteen months later he was fighting with the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade near the small town of Klishchiivka, in eastern Ukraine, when an explosion mangled his right leg just below the hip.

The leg had to be amputated to save his life. Romaniuk, was only 21, yet in a flash a life that was just beginning had changed forever.

Oleksandr Kovalchuk, who grew up swimming, competing in judo and playing soccer, had followed his father into the military and was deployed in the Kreminna Forest with the 12th Special Forces Azov Brigade.