THIRTY two years on and the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster are still being felt.

The accident at the nuclear power plant near to the Ukraine’s border with Belarus remains the biggest of its kind.

A late-night safety test went horrifically wrong and triggered an explosion that covered the vicinity in radio-active material.

The local population are still paying the price to this day – particularly the children who live in poverty.

It is a cause that has touched the heart of Chris Short, City’s fitness and conditioning coach up to last week.

Short is involved with a charity that takes young children from the poorest affected areas and brings them to the UK for a month to let them experience a life we take for granted.

It is a rewarding situation for the 48-year-old, who intends to focus on the charity for now before planning a return to football.

“The kids from Chernobyl still experience the high radiation from the disaster,” he said.

“Until I got involved, I thought like everybody else. Surely they couldn’t still be feeling the effects now?

“But you read the literature on it and realise it’s still pretty bad.

“They don’t have phones and cars aren’t very prevalent. They go to school on bikes or even horses still.

“So, every year these kids come and stay with a family. They get good health care, go out for trips and picnics and basically enjoy all the things they have missed out on.

“You’re taking kids with no real hope in their lives and providing them with good experiences.

“It’s challenging and demanding but it’s so rewarding. You’re giving a little bit back.

“They come with an empty suitcase and you fill them up with clothes and sweets before they go home. They become part of the family.”

The Friends of Chernobyl Children was set up in 1995 and has bases in all regions of the country. Short and his wife have been involved for five years as members of the Easingwold branch.

He added: “I’ve always been interested in travel, although I’ve never been to Russia. We got a call and took it on.

“The language is a challenge. They don’t speak English and I don’t speak Russian but we have a laugh and communicate from there.

“It’s a great way to support those kids how you can. They learn from new experiences like going to the beach – we even went to a wedding once.

“I don’t know the exact figures but their chances of contracting certain diseases are increased considerably because the contamination is still there in the soil.

“By coming away for a whole month every year, their health can hopefully improve and extend their life.

“There are pockets throughout the country and several hundred kids come each year. It’s nice that hopefully you can make a difference.”

After 30 years in football, Short is unlikely to make his break from the game a permanent one.

City were the seventh club where he had worked on the fitness side since retiring as a player in 2001 because of a circulation disorder.

He loved his 18 months at Valley Parade and admitted it was tough to walk away.

“I leave with a heavy heart,” he said. “It was a difference of opinion but I wish the club all the best because I had a great time.

“I knew Stuart (McCall) from Sheffield and it was great to work with people like Kenny (Black), Banksy (Steve Banks) and Greg Abbott, who got me into the club.

“Sam Collins, who came in, and then James Mason behind the scenes and the two physios were all terrific. It was the best group of staff I’ve ever worked with.

“The players played some great football and it was a privilege to watch as much as work for them.

“I really enjoyed the times when we played some scintillating stuff and just narrowly missed out at Wembley, which was a heartache.

“We had good players and personalities and there was a real unity and common goal.

“People worked incredibly hard and everyone did their best. It was such a shame (to miss out on promotion) because we got very, very close.

“Of course, I’ll have made mistakes like everyone. But I helped bring GPS data into the club and blood testing.

“I really appreciate what everyone’s done and hopefully I did something right.

“They are a great club and I just hope they will kick on.”

More information on the Friends of Chernobyl Children is available at