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Bate Borisov

Ground: Borisov Arena

Visits: 1

Date: 3rd May 2014

Match: Neman Grodno - Shakhtar Soligorsk  0-1  (Belarusian Cup, Final)

Attendance: 11 000

 

At 06.55 on Saturday morning our train left Vilnius. 40 minutes later we were at the border to Belarus. A minor army of border police boarded the train and looked at our migration cards. To enter Belarus you have to fill in your details, purpose of visit, where you are staying etc and then give that card to the officials. Normally you need a visa to get entry to Belarus, which for me is very complicated since Sweden and Belarus don´t have any diplomatic relations. From 26 April to 31 May you don´t need a visa if you are in possession of a ticket for the upcoming ice-hockey World Championships though. Our plan was to leave on Monday (5 May) which of course is before the ice-hockey tournament has started. No problems at the border though, passport and ice-hockey ticket were scanned, stamp in passport and Welcome to Belarus. Once in Minsk we exchanged money and bought tickets for the return trip. This took much longer than expected (which was to be a common theme on this trip). I then made it to Hotel Sputnik where I was staying for two nights. When I was in my room the phone rang and the receptionist said "There is something wrong, can you please come down to the reception. Please bring your migration card". I thought they had figured out I was leaving earlier than I had said on my migration card. For obvious reasons I had to write 11 May as my day of departure. It turned out the problem was they had billed me too much. I could relax and headed towards Minsk-Uschodi station, from where we would take the train to Borisov.

 

BATE Borisov have been the dominating force in Belarus for some years now but their old ground, City of Borisov Stadium, is not allowed to host international football. In 2011 building works started on a new ground, Borisov Arena. This ground is situated in the southern outskirts of the city (6,5 km from the train station) and has an all-seated capacity of around 12 600. The ground was to be opened 3 May with the Belarusian cup final and this was of course great news for foreign groundhoppers visiting Belarus. The journey from Minsk-Uschodi to Borisov took 1 h 40 minutes and by 2pm we were in Borisov. Since most of us hadn´t eaten for many hours we searched for a restaurant. We had some problems with this but eventually found one. No English-speaker working there but we still managed to order food and drinks. We then went back to the train station to find taxis bringing us to the ground. Borisov Arena really seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, the exterior looked quite nice though. Kick-off for the cup final, Neman Grodno vs Shakhtar Soligorsk, was stated as being 17.00 but that turned out to be totally wrong. I knew there was supposed to be an opening ceremony and the ground was to be officially inaugurated by the president of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukasjenko. The presence of the president meant security checks for this the match was like at the airport in Tel-Aviv. At 17.00 THE OPENING CEREMONY started. At 17.45 all kiosk etc were closed and everyone had to go to their seats. Why? The answer is of course the stadium had to be full when Lukasjenko hold his speech and officially opened the ground. This was a very surreal experience for foreign groundhoppers. The actual match eventually started at 19.00. At half-time more than 50% had left the ground and when the final whistle went I estimate the ground was only 25% full. It was only those who had actually come to watch football who stayed that long. People who were there to fill-out the ground left when they had the chance. Shakhtar Soligorsk won this cup final and the 1 500 or so travelling fans could celebrate a memorable day. Neman Grodno had around 1 500 fans as well and they did their best to support their team but that didn´t help this time around.

 

After the match we went to an Irish pub in Borisov. "We" were by now myself, four German groundhoppers, Yuri (Russian groundhopper) as well as three Dinamo Minsk fans. At the pub we had something to drink with two lovely Belarusian ladies. One of them was an English teacher and (among other things) said she really likes Sweden. I was not sure what to make of that to be honest! Anyway, at 22.45 our train left Borisov and by 00.30 I was back at my hotel. A very long but also very interesting day came to an end.

 

 

train

Our train

 

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Borisov (Barysaw)

 

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Train station in Borisov

 

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Train station in Borisov

 

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World War II memorial

 

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Borisov Arena

 

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Borisov Arena

 

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Grodno fan

 

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Stadium map

 

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Grodno fans outside the ground

 

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Inside the ground

 

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South Stand

 

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West Stand

 

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North Stand

 

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East Stand

 

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Floodlights

 

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Pre-match entertainment

 

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Belarusian flag displayed

 

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Aleksandr Lukasjenko (president of Belarus) inaugurating Borisov Arena

 

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Aleksandr Lukasjenko inaugurating Borisov Arena

 

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Aleksandr Lukasjenko

 

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Balloons

 

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South Stand

 

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Neman Grodno fans

 

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Neman Grodno fans

 

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Neman Grodno fans

 

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Banner

 

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View of Borisov Arena

 

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Kick-off

 

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West Stand

 

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Soligorsk fans

 

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Banner

 

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North Stand

 

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Pano

 

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Pano

 

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Pano