Nördlingen: Basketball: A war refugee becomes a fishing rod

Women’s Basketball: The Eigner Angels sign Ukrainian Olena Vasylenko, who fled the war in her homeland and has since settled in Ries.

The current political situation does not stop with the owner Angels’ first division basketball players. The war in Ukraine caused about 200,000 people to flee the war zone to Germany, many of whom also ended up in Ries. Olena Vasylenko and her husband Andrii found their way to Nordlingen, where Olena is now starting her Premier League basketball career.

Olena and Andrii came to the crater through an American basketball player who played in Olena’s hometown of Berdyansk last year, who had connections with the Angels’ sports management. A phone call and a few WhatsApp messages were enough to guide the young couple to Ries shortly after crossing the border between Poland and Germany. The owner angels’ parent club BG Donau-Ries offered the two players an apartment at short notice and supported them in communicating with the authorities, filling out forms and other everyday matters.

The Vasylenkos have been living in Nördlingen since April, and while Andrii, a basketball player himself, was quick to connect with TSV’s men, Olena proved to be an experienced first division player despite being only 21 years old. In her home club Chayka Berdyansk, listed under her maiden name Popova, she played an average of 27 minutes as a point guard, dished out five assists in each game and organized the offensive play. After a few training sessions, it was agreed with coach Ajtony Imreh that the credible Ukrainian will be offered a professional contract for the upcoming season.

The new angel Olena shows initiative

How seriously the 1.64m point guard takes his basketball career is also shown by the fact that he traveled by bus to Paris on his own to connect with his future teammates at the legendary Quai54 tournament and play together. In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, among others, Angels players Mariam Haslé-Lagemann, Anissa Pounds, Elina Koskimies and Amenze Obanor had formed a team where Olena quickly found her feet.

Back in Nördlingen, the ambitious Ukrainian is not only working on his German language skills, but also his basketball skills and fitness. Weights are lifted and endurance is practiced five times a week. Coach Imreh and former Angels coach Pat Bär work with Olena on basketball matters.

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Despite the development in their home country, the Vasylenkos can well imagine the future in Ries. Olena’s husband Andrii now works full-time in a liquor store. In the medium term, as soon as his German language skills are good enough, he wants to gain a foothold in the IT sector, where he can apply his computer science studies. The small world of basketball has helped to catch and support two people who were forced to flee by the big world politics.

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