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EDGARAS MATAKAS: The Same Dream
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
14 Sep 2016

Edgaras’ disability class is reserved for those whose visual impairment is the most severe, i.e., the blind. In competition with other athletes in this category, the 17 year old Lithuanian reached three A level standards. He competed in the 50, 100, and 400 meter freestyle races this fall in the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. He is the only swimmer who represented the Lithuanian team in the 2016 Paralympics.

This video complements four other videos featuring Lithuanian Paralympians, alongside eight long-form articles with accompanying still photos. The full multi-media story can be found here at http://nanook.lt/en/will-to-win-hidden Password: nanookwilltowin.

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AUGUSTAS NAVICKAS: 5 minutes of torture
Lithuania
By Berta Tilmantaite
01 Sep 2016

Augustas Navickas is the first and only Lithuanian Paralympian rower. He grew up with the sport and had been training a lot before the spine trauma. His dedication to sport and the support of the people closest to him helped Augustas overcome the hardships that life threw at him. This year, at the end of May, he got a wild card to Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. This video complements four other videos featuring Lithuanian Paralympians, alongside eight long-form articles with accompanying still photos. The full multi-media story can be found here at http://nanook.lt/en/will-to-win-hidden Password: nanookwilltowin.

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LITHUANIAN GOALBALL TEAM: To hear the...
Lithuania
By Berta Tilmantaite
01 Sep 2016

The goalball is the sports game that is gaining popularity with the blind and partially sighted people. In 24 minutes, two teams of three players each, wearing special eyewear that blocks all sight, have to throw the ball into their opponents’ goal. In order to win, athletes have to use senses rarely used in other sports to such extent. There are bells inside the ball, so they have to hear it, and the court borders and team zones are marked by a raised strip, so they have to feel it by touch.

Although the game is largely unknown in Lithuania, it is this Paralympic event that Lithuania is most famous for. Year after year, Lithuanian goalball players have been winning various awards, getting into the top spots of international ratings, and their names have been cited by their rival coaches when ironing out strategies. In the international goalball tournament in July, where a lot of strong teams participated, Lithuania became champions. To be precise, champions and runners-up, for Lithuania was represented by two teams, “Lithuania 1” and “Lithuania 2”.

This video complements four other videos featuring Lithuanian Paralympians, alongside eight long-form articles with accompanying still photos. The full multi-media story can be found here at http://nanook.lt/en/will-to-win-hidden Password: nanookwilltowin.

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TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES: The Everlas...
Lithuania
By Berta Tilmantaite
01 Sep 2016

Four different stories of four different people. Paralympians Ramunė Adomaitienė, Mindaugas Bilius, Jonas Spudis and Kęstutis Skučas have more in common than only Lithuanian names and participant accreditations for the Rio 2016 games.
All of these athletes had to overcome a big trauma and begin a new different life in a new different body. Now they all compete successfully in the international arena, have many medals and records. However, usually their competition does not end at the stadium.

Life, as well as individual sport, requires an individual battle. After winning against stereotypes, fears and their own bodies, Ramunė, Mindaugas, Jonas and Kęstutis could probably calm down and enjoy their triumph. However, they are figthers and they do know that victory can be saved in the one possible way – if your work today is harder than it was yesterday.

This video complements four other videos featuring Lithuanian Paralympians, alongside eight long-form articles with accompanying still photos. The full multi-media story can be found here at http://nanook.lt/en/will-to-win-hidden Password: nanookwilltowin.

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OSVALDAS BARIKIS: Fighting shadows
Lithuania
By Berta Tilmantaite
01 Sep 2016

In 2013, Osvaldas Bareikis became the champion in the World Junior Judo Championship for Visually Impaired and participated in the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Games in Seoul; he is also the winner of the Lithuanian Judo Championship for Blind and Partially Sighted. And he is the only representative of Lithuania in judo in his first, the 2016 Paralympics. This video complements four other videos featuring Lithuanian Paralympians, alongside eight long-form articles with accompanying still photos. The full multi-media story can be found here at http://nanook.lt/en/will-to-win-hidden Password: nanookwilltowin.

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Winning and Losing
Vienna
By Shervin Sardari
15 Jun 2016

“Golden Baby” Eva Voraberger is going for it: the 26-year-old super flyweight champion of the world is going to fight Esmeralda Moreno of Mexico. Eva is up against a tough boxer: Moreno is currently number three in the world and has more than twice the points Eva does. But for Eva, there is more at stake than her three world championship titles. The winner of the coming fight has a shot at the top: an international match in Las Vegas against the number one in the world.

The documentary “Goldrausch” (“Winning and Losing”) is an intimate portrait of the Austrian boxer Eva Voraberger, showing the intense preparations for this all-or-nothing fight. Adding to the physical demands of training comes an emotional blow as she learns that her boyfriend has cancer. But in the same way he has her back in the ring, she has his in the fight against his disease.

Video: XDCAM HD422, 50mbps, 1080i50
Audio: CH 1/CH2 = natural sound + music (stereo)

FULL CONFORMED SCRIPT AND CUE SHEET AVAILABLE: https://goo.gl/8ZoY8v

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Surfer
Siargao Island
By Ralf Falbe
19 Feb 2016

PHILIPPINES, SIARGAO ISLAND, 19.02.2016: Surfer at Spot Cloud 9.

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The Power of Sport
Beirut
By b.yaacoub
10 Jul 2015

In a world where differences and divisions often drive people apart, sport brings people together. Sport overcomes cultural, social, and political barriers, providing an opportunity for dialogue and positive human interaction.

Transterra Media has the world of sports covered, from the fighting Cholitas of Bolivia, to the female boxers of Calcutta, and more.

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Armenia and Azerbaijan Face-off at 20...
Baku
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

ONLY FOR PRINTED PUBLICATIONS / ARTICLE WRITTEN ON DEMAND

WIDER EDIT AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

SOUND AND RECORDINGS AVAILABLE TOO

PHOTOS: Jacob Balzani Lööv WORDS: Andrew Connelly

The inaugural European Games opened in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on the 12th June, 2015. A continent-wide sporting extravaganza costing an estimated $10bn featuring 6,000 athletes from over 50 different countries. As is so often said, sport is above politics. But for one national team competing in Baku, that could hardly be further than the truth.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union began to crumble, simmering tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted into full-scale war. The mountainous lands where Muslim Azeris and Christian Armenians used to live together in relative harmony, had become a source of dispute thanks in large part to divide and rule strategies by the Russian, and then Soviet, empires. When fighting finally subsided in 1994 following a Russian-brokered ceasefire, over 100,000 had been killed and Karabakh became de-facto state administered by Armenia but not officially recognised by any countries in the world. Azerbaijan lost 20% of its territory, including land outside of the Nagorno-Karabakh hotspot, which is internationally recognised as occupied Azeri territory.

Although Armenians and Azeris meet peacefully around the world, they are practically banned from each other’s countries and the level of mutual hostility is comparable to Israel-Palestine. The European Games in Baku is the biggest sporting event ever hosted in the South Caucasus and for both sides, there is huge pressure for their athletes to better the opposing team. For the Azeris, it means a victory over the ‘occupiers’ to whom they lost the war, for Armenians, the chance to raise their flag and sing their anthem in the enemy capital has incredible symbolic power. So much for the Olympic truce.

Meanwhile, despite a ceasefire in place, villagers living on both sides of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border live in the shadow of sniper positions, and endure regular exchanges of fire. Far away from the capitals of Yerevan and Baku, people here speak respectfully of their brothers on the other side and express their frustration that their governments prolong and provoke endless conflict.

In a little-known region, a forgotten conflict divides peoples that in living memory were neighbours and friends. With no direct dialogue between the warring states and no progress by international institutions, many people ominously warn of a renewed conflict which could devastate the region and catch the world by surprise.

As the athletes face each other in Baku, (ironically both sides excel in fighting sports such as boxing and wrestling), the mantra of sport as an apolitical tool for peace risks being overshadowed by raw geopolitics, and an opportunity for nationalism and chauvinism to be exhibited, in a region which can ill afford more.

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Armenians in Baku Games 07
Berkeber, Armenia
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

Daily life in the armenian village of Berkeber. The other side of the lake is Azerbaijan and there are regular shootings beetween the military positions on both sides but often targeting also the villages.

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Armenians in Baku Games 19
Sumgait, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

The final torchbearer of the European Games Ilham Zakiyev portrayed in Sumgait. Ilham Zakiyev was a soldier on the frontline before he was shot in the head by an Armenian sniper and blinded. He is now a world champion blackbelt Paralympic judoku. "My partecipation was a secret until the last hour, I know I was chosen to be a scream to the world to remind that 20% of our land is occupied by Armenians"

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Armenians in Baku Games 20
Sumgait, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

Training on the seafront in Sumgait. Sumgait was the teatre in 1988 of the first post-soviet etnic conflicts between armenians and Azerbaijanis.

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Armenians in Baku Games 21
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

The trainer of Armenia during a match of Sambo.

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Armenians in Baku Games 22
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

Reaction of the public to the elimination of Armenia during a wrestling match. Armenian athletes get a hostile reception from the Azerbaijani audience at the European Games in Baku.

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Armenians in Baku Games 23
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
25 Jun 2015

Greco-Roman wrestlers Roman Amuyan from Armenia and Elman Mukhtarov from Azerbaijan square off in the Heydar Aliyev Sports Centre.

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Armenians in Baku Games 24
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
14 Jun 2015

Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler Mirhan Harutyunyan takes a silver medal, while his opponent Hasan Aliyev from Azerbaijan took bronze. Russian gold-medal winner Artem Surkov brings the athletes together on the podium.

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Armenians in Baku Games 18
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
12 Jun 2015

The elaborate opening ceremony of the European Games in Baku. A gigantic pomegranate opens up to release a flurry of heart-shaped balloons. The fruit is abundant in both Azerbaijan and Armenia and both countries consider it a national symbol.

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Armenians in Baku Games 17
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
11 Jun 2015

Azerbaijani team dancing in the Olympic Village in Baku. It has been speculated that the Azerbaijani government spent up to $10bn in preparation to host the European Games. Of more concern for Armenia is Azerbaijan’s dramatic increase in their military budget up to almost $5bn, more than Armenia’s entire domestic budget. Baku has consistently promised to use military force to regain captured territory if peace talks fail.

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Armenians in Baku Games 06
Chinari, Armenia
By lordcob
02 Jun 2015

A villager in the town of Chinari in northwestern Armenia, shows the bullets found in his own garden. In the mountains above, Azeri and Armenian sniper positions stare at each other. Violations of the 1994 ceasefire are frequent not only in Nagorno-Karabakh but also along the main border between the two countries. Most of the casualties are soldiers but villagers are often targeted and have lived in an atmosphere of tension for over twenty years.

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Armenians in Baku Games 16
Berd, Armenia
By lordcob
02 Jun 2015

A signpost in Armenia points to the road leading to Azerbaijan, a relic from a time when the countries were at peace.

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Armenians in Baku Games 03
Voskevan, Armenia
By lordcob
01 Jun 2015

Armenian children walk to the football ground in the village of Voskevan on the Azerbaijan border. The ground is in the shadow of sniper positions and the children have to consult with their parents, or the military, to play at times when there is calm on the frontline.

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Armenians in Baku Games 15
Koti, Armenia
By lordcob
01 Jun 2015

A Taekwondo class in the village of Koti, a village in the northeastern Tavush province of Armenia where some buildings bear the bullet holes of recent sniper fire.

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Sample media
Rafael Nadal at 2015 French Open (cel...
Paris
By Sonia contributor
31 May 2015

Rafael Nadal vs Jack Sock at French tennis open - Roland Garros 2015

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Armenians in Baku Games 12
Abovyan, Armenia
By lordcob
29 May 2015

Vovik Khojanyan trains youngsters in the art of Sambo in the gym that he built himself in the village of Abovyan, Armenia. Vovik was born in Azerbaijan but his family left in the fifties.

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Sample media
Rafael Nadal at 2015 French Open (cel...
Paris
By Sonia contributor
29 May 2015

Rafael Nadal vs Jack Sock at French tennis open - Roland Garros 2015

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Armenians in Baku Games 02
Geghakert, Armenia
By lordcob
22 May 2015

Felix Aliyev, 76, trains a pupil in a gym in the village of Geghakert, Armenia. Despite having coached children who would become world champions, Aliyev’s gym lacks even toilet or showering facilities. During the ethnic conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis that erupted in the early nineties, many escaped to their respective countries. Some decided to stay and change their identities but despite sharing the same surname as the president of Azerbaijan, Aliyev has lived in peace ever since. During the war, his pupils took shifts to sleep at his house to protect him just in case. Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis remain virtually banned from each others countries.

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Armenians in Baku Games 14
Geghakert, Armenia
By lordcob
22 May 2015

Yuri Sargsyan, 54, supervises a young wannabe weightlifter in a gym in the village of Geghakert. A weightlifting world champion several times over, he is now the coach of the Australian Olympic team. Many athletes choose to migrate to other countries due to the dire economical situation of Armenia. After 1991, the country remained geographically isolated, cut off from Azerbaijan and Turkey, and industry formerly dependent on the Soviet Union all but collapsed. Most of the country survives on remittances from family living abroad.

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Armenians in Baku Games 05
Yerevan, Armenia
By lordcob
13 May 2015

Armenian boxers take a timeout during a training. Some will visit Baku for the inaugural European Games though most Armenians have never seen the country with whom they are at war.

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Armenians in Baku Games 11
Yerevan, Armenia
By lordcob
12 May 2015

Businessmen stop to pump some iron at an open-air gym in Yerevan. In the run-up to the European Games, a big debate raged in the country dover whether Armenian athletes should participate. Ironically, both countries excel in fighting sports such as wrestling and boxing.

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Armenians in Baku Games 13
Tsakhadzor, Armenia
By lordcob
15 Apr 2015

Taekwondo champion Armen Yeremyan, takes a break in the restaurant of the high-altitude training centre in Tsakhadzor, Armenia. He sits with his with his trainer, and his Iranian sparring partner. Armen used to be good friends with a Taekwondo athlete who plays for Azerbaijan until his friend told him that he was forbidden to speak with him. These days, when they meet at international competitions, they merely nod at each other.

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Armenians in Baku Games 08
Abovyan, Armenia
By lordcob
14 Apr 2015

Sambo champion Ashot Danielyan, during a training for Baku with the Armenian National Team in Abovyan, Armenia. Ashot was born in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. During a recent medal ceremony in Moscow, his Azerbaijani opponent squatted in protest during the national Armenian anthem. Sambo, a mixture of judo and wrestling is common in post-Soviet countries and has its origins in the Red Army.

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Armenians in Baku Games 09
Baku, Azerbaijan
By lordcob
13 Apr 2015

Greco-Roman wrestler Arsen Julfalakyan is served lunch during a training camp in Yerevan.In addition to sports, Julfalakyan is also completing a PhD in International Relations and speaks four languages, including Turkish. He is boycotting the European Games in protest at Azerbaijan'€™s human rights record. In addition, he has bad memories of his previous visit to Baku in 2007 where security was too overbearing, and the audience hostile.

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Armenians in Baku Games 04
Yerevan; Armenia
By lordcob
10 Apr 2015

Armenian shooters train at a range in Yerevan underneath a poster of Nagorno-Karabakh surrounded by photos of war veterans. The region is currently a de-facto independent state, not recognised by any countries in the world and supported by Armenia. The territory is considered by the international community as part of Azerbaijan.

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Armenians in Baku Games 01
Yerevan, Armenia
By lordcob
03 Apr 2015

Albert Azaryan, 86, observes one of his pupils at his eponymous gym in Yerevan, Armenia. Azaryan is a sporting legend of the Soviet era, in a time where it was harder for smaller republics of the Union to shine. Thanks to the strength he gained working as a blacksmith in Kirovabad (currently Ganja, Azerbaijan), he was the first gymnast to win two consecutive medals for rings. The incredible contortion of his signature ‘Azaryan cross’ move has never been copied, though many try.

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Life in Green and White: An 'Ultra's'...
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

Text and Photos by Karolis Pilypas Liutkevicius

Vilniaus Žalgiris scores a goal in a football match against Klaipėdos Atlantas, two of Lithuania’s top teams. The fan section of the stadium erupts in a ferocious show of support. Some fans stumble down the stadium platform to greet the players face to face, others light flares. Everything is engulfed by smoke, the air fills up with loud chants. However, not everyone knows what happens after the echoes of the seemingly primordial shouts of football fans bounce off the walls of the stadium for the last time, when the last whistle is blown.

This is about trying to look through the seemingly negative façade of the “ultra,” a word used to describe some of the most hardcore sports fans on the planet.

“You could call it my second family,” says Jonas Šečkus, 36.

Jonas is a father of two young kids, he’s happily married, enjoys his job as a geologist and as a geology lecturer at Kaunas and Klaipėda universities. He has been a hardcore football fan since 2010.

“Yes, I’m an ultra. What’s bad about being so into something? And of course, just like in any family there are people who are, to put it lightly, a bit weirder, but there’s also really good guys. What keeps everyone in line is that we have boundaries that should not be crossed”, explains Jonas.

Politics of the game

According to Jonas, being a dedicated football fan in Lithuania is a different experience than being one in countries that are more well-known for the sport. Žalgiris’s budget consists of a smaller amount than what the country’s most beloved sport – basketball - and it’s two biggest teams get. Since a football club is more expensive to maintain than a basketball team, the level at which this sport is played in Lithuania is lower than what people are used to in more football-oriented countries.

This contributes to the fact that there aren’t as many fans as is usual within football fan clubs elsewhere. The “Pietų IV Ultras,” are therefore considered a local phenomenon. The fan club which consists of around 100 people is strikingly dedicated and well known among the population, mostly for their ferocity that is often publically associated with fanaticism. Since the Žalgiris club was established in 1965, it has been heavily associated with national history, and this makes most of the fans very patriotic, in some cases even ethnocentric.

“I don’t think you can separate any sport from politics. But since football has the strength of being the biggest sport in the world, politics are easily visible in it,” Jonas explains. Žalgiris football club has played a major part in Lithuanian history as a means for everyday people to express the independence and freedom of their country.

“Of course if some sort of pro-Russian ‘vatnik’ would suddenly appear among us in the stadium and start preaching his ideology, it would end badly for him,” says Jonas while eating sandwiches made by his wife. He talks about violence in a very nonchalant way, but with some thoughtful reservations. Without saying exactly how badly it would end for someone with such a political disposition, he makes it clear that it certainly wouldn’t be nice.

A day to day ultra

In his home and at work Jonas makes an effort to live a normal life. A courier arrives with a new child’s bike, colored green – the prefered colours of his football club - that he looks forward to giving to his daughter as a gift. At his office, Jonas is extremely concentrated on preparing an upcoming lecture and making the slides as interesting for his students as he can.

“I love teaching. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience that this occupation gives you,” Jonas admits.

“My students know that I’m an ultra, but I don’t parade that in front of them. I usually don’t wear my colors to lectures or my office.”

Contrary to what most people would think about “ultras,” football fandom fits into Jonas’s life without any repercussions, he says.

“It’s a way for people to vent,” he reflects. “After their stressful jobs, or with the intention to get something off their minds, people come here with the same intentions as those who go to shooting clubs, only we go to watch football and support our team. I think it’s meaningful. From the sidelines it may look violent, since we shout and light pyrotechnics, but we shout so they can hear us. We burn flares so they can see us. That’s what support is about.”

Jonas is clearly not a fan of the media and how it gives ultras a negative connotation by portraying their lifestyle as violent.

“Media wants bad news, because it is an easier sell. If a conflict between the police and fans erupts, they won’t even look into who’s the culprit,” he says. “Of course the fans are the bad guys, because police have the status of untouchable public guardians. That’s a normal view, but since there’s a lot that’s wrong with police in most countries, Lithuania included, everything gets complicated.”

Under scrutiny

The police, on the other hand, have a different opinion about Jonas’ fan club. Always hovering around the part of the stadium where the fans gather, they constantly observe them as they arrive.

“Once I arrived at the stadium, and a police officer, who I didn’t even know, greeted me by name. They monitor us very closely, maybe even take pictures of us,” a young fan from the fanclub said. “They’re annoying.”

This timidly hostile view of the police seems to be shared by many of the fans. Before the game they often glance at the officers in a belligerent way and murmur some remarks about them.

“There were times when I was involved with some violent stuff, but I won’t talk about it,” Jonas says while putting on his jersey before heading to the stadium.

It’s time for one of the most important matches in the Lithuanian football league. Klaipėdos Atlantas and Vilniaus Žalgiris are set to play at the home stadium of the latter team.

After passing the security checkpoint just outside the stadium, Jonas enters the area of the stadium reserved for the fan club. He seems to feel at home here. The constant smile on his face while he meets his friends quickly changes to an expression full of excitement by the time the match starts. The chanting begins, flares are lit and everything fades into a mist of excitement and smoke.

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Lithuania ultras 06
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

When Jonas is not working, he wakes up early to go to his office and polish up his presentations and material shown in lectures for his students.

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Lithuania ultras 07
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

The smoking area is where Jonas spends his only breaks at work.

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Lithuania ultras 08
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

"I don't see my colleague often" - Jonas describes why his office is always so empty.

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Lithuania ultras 09
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

Jonas's wife Ramånä isn't a big football fan but has been to a couple of matches with her husband.

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Lithuania ultras 10
Vilnius, Lithuania
By Nanook
02 Apr 2015

The family bought a bike for their youngest member Aistä—. She just turned 2.