Playing football on the marshes

Hot summer weather fails to hamper International Sporovo Haymaking Festival, held in Bereza District

Nature lovers from Belarus, Russia, Poland, Germany and elsewhere recently gathered for the 10th European Haymaking Championship — the key event of the grand festival. Fans anticipated surprises until the last minute and weren’t disappointed.


Haymakers’ self-possession worthy of envy

Everything looked wonderful at Sporovo Reserve. A chain of cars was parked far from the marshes while trading tents were placed near the forest, selling cold kvass and ice-cream: a sure hit on the hot summer day. Those ready to scythe stood fixing their tools, and some addressed local master Alexander Levkovich to have their scythes clenched. He knows his business perfectly, having competed in the festival for several years. Last season, he took part but, this time, decided to help others.

On welcoming all the entrants, the Chairman of the Bereza District Executive Committee, Yuri Narkevich, joined the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Andrey Kovkhuto, in wishing success to each team. He stated that the Sporovo Haymaking Festival is a calling card of the Bereza District. The international level event helps preserve the reserve’s habitat for rare birds and animals, while protecting Red Book plants. In recent years, over 500 hectares of the reserve have been cleared of grass and bushes.

Last year, the reserve hosted the European Championship for the first time, including a team from remote Yakutia. Men brought their own scythes to the prestigious competition, covering thousands of kilometres by plane. Russia’s Vyacheslav Okorokov and Fiodor Rokhlev admitted that, having taken part in such events for many years, they remain impressed by Sporovo’s marshes. They were extremely tired after completing their line but, on looking at the winners — the Kartuziane team, from the Bereza District’s Peskovskoe JSC — they admitted that they’d met their match. Vladimir Zdanovich and Vasily Novik know the local marshes perfectly but, importantly, have trained hard in using scythes.

This year, Yakutia’s team failed to attend, so Kartuziane’s main rivals were from the Postavy District’s Zhilinskie. Not long ago, the latter won first place at a similar event in Ural’s Arti. Notably, the skilled scything men found a true challenge in defeating the Kartuziane pair. “I’d love to be taught a master class by these guys,” admitted Piotr Korol, from Zhilinskie. “Their endurance and mastery are impressive!” The Bereza scythemen were acknowledged best in the team and personal competitions, finishing their team scythe in just 11 minutes and 15 seconds. Zhilinskie came second (yielding 4 minutes and 41 seconds behind) and third place was occupied by Kakorytskiya Asilki, from Belarus’ Drogichin District (taking 17 minutes and 19 seconds).

The personal competition was won by Vladimir Zdanovich, Vasily Novik and Nikolay Yalchik, while Bereza Meat-and-Milk Factory JSC won the football tournament. 

Of course, such events have no losers. All participants were in high spirits, being entertained by amateur troupes and culinary delicacies. Nature lovers were invited to an observation ground from where, using binoculars, they could observe aquatic warblers, bitterns, daker-hens, spotted flycatchers and other rare birds.

After the results had been announced, guests did not hurry to leave, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the occasion. Many have said that they look forward to the next European Haymaking Championship in Sporovo.

By Alexander Kurets
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