At each of Ajax’s morning trainings, Andrei Vashkevich sits in the training field’s covered white stands. The press officer for BATE Borisov watches Ajax’s on field manoeuvres with the technical staff of White Russia’s top club.
BATE Borisov’s technical staff is staying in Belek for the entire week. The club from White Russia, which participated in Champions League this season, is in Turkey without their selection. “They’re all on holiday”, explains Andrei Vashkevich. “Our competition starts in March. In February, we play Europa League against Paris-Saint Germain. So we start out training camp in Belek on January 22. “
Vashkevich is BATE’s press officer. The friendly man is naturally a BATE fan, but, surprisingly, is a big Ajax supporter. Upon hearing the word ‘Ajax’, he speaks enthusiastically about the club, its players, and historical matches. “I’ve been an Ajax fan since 1995”, he says. “But that was mainly due to the World Cup in 1994, when the Netherlands lost to Brazil, 3-2. Everyone was rooting for Brazil, but I was cheering for the Netherlands. I thought it was terrible when they were eliminated. After that, I was for Sweden, because I hoped that they would beat Brazil”, he says, laughing.
After the World Cup, Vashkevich was an Ajax fan. “I used to stay up late at night to watch the Ajax game highlights. We didn’t have internet, so I had to stay up until Ajax was on to see the score.” One of the most memorable matches for him was the Champions League finals defeat to Juventus. “I cried then”, says Vashkevich. “That had never happened before. But honestly, without Jari Litman, Ajax would never have gotten that far.”
The Finnish player who was a sensation at Ajax is undoubtedly Vashkevich’s favourite Ajax player. “I’m not sure what it is that I like so much about him”, he says with a smile. “Actually, it’s everything, his style of playing, his plays, and his friendliness.”
His love for Ajax became so great, that he decided to study Dutch as a third language at the University of Minsk. “It was also because Jari Litmanen played there. I wanted to speak all of the languages that Jari spoke”, he says, of his youth idol. But why not Finnish? “That wasn’t offered at the university”, he says with a smile. Enthusiastically, he shows his Dutch language certificates.
Because of his love for Ajax, the Netherlands and the Eredivisie, he writes about the Dutch competition in the Russian newspapers. Vashkevich shows several articles about the Dutch top clubs. “I also use many Dutch words in the articles. Recently, I used the word ‘nacompetitie’. How could I translate that to Russian? I left it the way it was. People learn the Dutch football terms that way.”
Vashkevich focuses on the training again. “I just have one more dream, and that’s Ajax playing against BATE.” Who would he root for? “That’s not important”, he says, shaking his head. “The great thing is that a boy’s dream would come true.”