"My pride for my country is miles ahead of fear.”
Svyatik Artemenko, an Ontario soccer player, has left his home in Guelph to join Ukraine's army in its fight against Russia.
Artemenko left Canada and is in Odessa to attend training and prepare for deployment after deciding to voluntarily enlist in Ukraine's military, according to CTV News Kitchener.
"Right away, my first thought was to go and protect my country and the freedom of my country and the people," Artemenko told CTV News Kitchener.
The brave soldier played for Guelph United F.C. as a goalkeeper and had just signed to play for the Western Ukrainian soccer club, according to CTV News Kitchener.
Even though he is no longer a citizen of Ukraine and it is not mandatory for him to join the military, he does have family in the country and says that he needed to take action.
"Obviously, there's that inner feeling that you know you might die and that this is not a normal thing to do," said Artemenko. "But, you have to work with the situation that you have. My pride for my country is miles ahead of fear."
The former soccer player said his location is a target for Russia's invasion and that he has already heard air raid sirens. He said an attack could come "within a couple of hours or days" and that they are on their "highest alert."
Guelph United F.C. posted a message of solidarity for Ukraine and Artemenko on Facebook, writing, "WE STAND WITH OUR NUMBER 1."
"Guelph United players and staff send love and support to one of the amazing members of the Guelph United family, Svyatik Artemenko as well as the people of Ukraine."
Guelph United's head coach and general manager, Keith Mason, told CTV News Kitchener that they are "very proud of him" and that his actions don't surprise him.
"He's a very principled man," he said. "He's the kind that's going to stand up for what's right."
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