Chernobyl Soccer ExperienceCHERNOBYL, UKRAINE | COMING IN 2020


Share your passion for soccer with the residents of Chernobyl and immerse yourself in the local community for a true behind-the-scenes experience!

In 2019, HBO released a new miniseries dramatizing the events in Chernobyl and have once again drawn the world’s attention to the Exclusion Zone, but not to those who call it home. That means it’s time for the Friendship League to do what it does best – introduce you to the people and communities behind the headlines, all through the power of sport. Welcome to the Chernobyl Soccer Experience!



Soccer exhibition with local Ukrainian community teams


Site visits in the capital Kiev and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone


Extension trip across the Ukrainian Steppe to drive a tank

About the event

The Chernobyl Soccer Experience (CSE) 2020 is a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event that utilizes a shared passion for soccer to foster genuine cross-cultural engagement between the people of Chernobyl and international soccer enthusiasts.  While for many, Chernobyl remains a symbol of tragedy, at the Friendship League, we see a thriving community with a fascinating culture.  The CSE is your chance to add your own brick in the wall of solidarity with the people of Chernobyl.

  • Soccer exhibition with local Ukrainian community teams
    How many times have you visited a destination, only to interact almost exclusively with foreigners?  On our trips, we use soccer as the ultimate ice-breaker with the local community, allowing you to become a friend, and not just a tourist.  A unique and growing community call Chernobyl home, we’re going to meet them and hear their stories, all with a bit of help from a soccer ball! After a series of soccer games with local community teams, the final game will see the teams mix together for a true friendship game.
  • Site visits in the capital Kiev and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
    Visit Ukraine’s glorious capital, where we will sample Vodka, visit the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, indulge in the local cuisine and more.  From there, we head to Chernobyl to discover reactor number 4, abandoned villages, the Red Forest and even stay overnight in the Chernobyl Hotel!
  • Extension trip across the Ukrainian Steppe to visit a military base and drive a tank
    For the most adventurous, we will have the chance to travel across the Ukrainian Steppe  to visit an undisclosed military base.  While there, we will meet a crew of Ukrainian soldiers who will show us the ropes as we take turns driving a Ukrainian tank!  On the way back to Kiev, we will discover local highlights as well as a remote shooting range to test our skills.

Participate in a friendship dinner with actual locals who experienced Chernobyl firsthand and stayed behind after the incident.


The Chernobyl Soccer Experience is being organized by Howe International Consulting Group (HICG) and the Howe International Friendship League (HIFL).

Who can participate?

If your idea of the perfect vacation is a weekend in Vegas or a trip to an all-inclusive beach resort, the HIFL might not be your best bet.  We’re looking for truly adventurous, curious and open-minded global citizens who are passionate about the world and its people.  Our past participants have included first time adventurists and expert nomads, skilled rookies and seasoned veterans, solo travellers and large groups.  Simply put, if you think it sounds fun and are willing to keep an open mind – get in touch!

The world's worst nuclear incident


On April 26th, 1986, the sleepy Soviet town of Pripyat was rocked by an immense explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in an event that would inevitably earn the undesired title of the ‘world’s worst nuclear incident’.  For those who called Pripyat home, lifestyles and trajectories were dramatically altered that day.  Their once quaint, peaceful home became synonymous with death, destruction and radiation.  Though perhaps surprisingly, not all residents would leave when the mandatory evacuation orders were issued.  In fact, in the three decades since the infamous explosion, a steady trickle of migrants from elsewhere in Ukraine have arrived in the Exclusion Zone looking to start a new life.


Thanks to HBO, you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody that hasn’t heard of Chernobyl.  Since Game of Thrones ended, it’s all people seem to talk about.  Yet for most fans of the show, the Chernobyl of 2019 they envision is a baren, radioactive wasteland.  The thought of businesses setting up shop in Chernobyl sounds like fake news at its finest.  But the truth is, not only is the Exclusion Zone filled with adventurous entrepreneurs looking for cheap rent, it’s also home to vibrant communities, filled with Ukrainians of all walks of life.


The safety and wellbeing of Howe International Friendship League participants is of the utmost concern to us.  We regularly monitor the situation in all host destinations and maintain close contact with local community members.  If we feel that the security situation in a host country has deteriorated to the point that an event cannot continue, the HIFL will provide a full refund of all monies paid.

Our events always have a very friendly, easy-going vibe.  There won’t be much rough stuff.  That being said we recognize that injuries are always a possibility in any athletic sport.  For your wellbeing, trained first aid attendants will be present at all HIFL events.

All participants are required to show proof of sufficient travel insurance prior to embarking on their adventure.

How can we help you?

Please feel free to contact us with any question or concern you might have regarding our events.

The Chernobyl Soccer Experience in a nutshell

The Friendship League brings you an unforgettable sporting and human experience in the heart of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. While discovering how one of the worst nuclear disasters unfolded, you will get to play soccer and genuinely exchange with local communities that have experienced this tragedy from within.

Sport has a unique way of forging cross-cultural connections where few previously existed. Join us to bring changing perspectives in the lives of remote communities.

Gordon Israel
Managing Partner, Howe International
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