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Ukraine soldiers stage own frontline football tournament

Ukrainian soldiers watch their colleagues play during a football match against a team of local residents, in the government-held town of Kurakhove, eastern Donetsk regionAs football fans prepare for the climax of the Euro 2016 tournament in France, battle-hardened Ukrainian troops are playing their own tournament against locals near the front in the war-scarred east. “After completing your watch at the front with a machinegun in your hands, standing knee-deep in mud in the trenches, you think about only about getting some sleep, not training,” said 37-year-old Ukrainian soldier Oleksandr Demchenko, as exploding shells reverberated around him. Some still had mud on their boots as they prepared to take to the slippery pitch in the government-held town of Kurakhove, a community of 20,000 mostly blue-collar workers about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the front.

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