Can they kick it? Football in Nizhny Novgorod wearing Valenki boots (VIDEO)

Ever wanted to play football in the snow but worry that your feet would be too cold? Well, football fanatics in Nizhny Novgorod have braved the Russian winter to have a kickaround with authentic, warm Russian Valenki boots.

Valenki - meaning felt boots - are traditional Russian footwear made especially to withstand the biting cold during winter. Originating from the beginning of the 18th century, Valenki were the boots of choice for many Russians until the latter half of the 19th century, and are included in standard Russian military issue warm clothes and gear.

The boots, however, weren’t designed for football, which made for an amusing outcome when Russian journalists faced off against a ‘World Team’ of international students in Bor, Nizhny Novgorod, at a training center built for the FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup on Sunday.

Members of the journalists’ team described the energy-sapping difficulty of playing in Valenki, which affected both winter-hardened Russians and their international counterparts.

“Really cool. A beautiful experience. It’s of course difficult to play in the snow wearing Valenki, we’re not really used to it. Everyone is getting tired really quickly, including our foreign guests,” one member of the journalists’ team told RT.

“I played only five minutes in the second half. It was that difficult that I’m still unable to continue playing now. The thing is, the Valenki boots are very warm, but not very suitable. And above all, the mounds of snow constantly try their best to take them off me!” said another.

The journalists’ team were joined by well-known football commentator and presenter Pavel Zanozin of Perviy Kanal, who is also a Russia 2018 ambassador for Nizhny Novgorod.

“I adore playing football in winter. It was very cool. You could feel the atmosphere of battle. Not for a second did a feeling arise that it was some kind of joke-friendly match. Everything was proper and we found it hard to score. Maybe their goalkeeper just let up for a second,” Zanozin said after the game.

“The [international team] played really well: they weren’t at all afraid of the snow, or the Valenki, or us, they seem really used to Russian conditions.”
Nizhny Novgorod is home to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, which will host six games at Russia 2018, which will be held from June 14 to July 15 this summer.

They include Lionel Messi’s Argentina vs Croatia, and England’s match with Panama, as well as a quarter-final game.

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