The head coach of the Lobi Star football club in Benue, Eddy Dombraye, has lamented that his wife and child are stranded in Ukraine.
TheCable earlier reported how Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last Thursday.
As Russian forces invaded Ukraine, thousands of Nigerians trapped by the war are trying to find their way out into neighbouring countries, with Putin showing no sign of withdrawing his troops.
According to Ukraine’s health ministry — as of Sunday — 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Speaking with TheCable on Monday, Dombraye said his wife and 5-year-old kid have been stuck at the train station in Ukraine trying to escape to Poland.
“They were supposed to catch the train from Boryspil which is about 15 kilometers away from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, but the train was cancelled. They are currently looking for a different alternative,” he said.
“The train was supposed to move by 11 am this morning (Monday) but it was cancelled. I have been in touch with them every minute to work on alternatives.”
He said he returned to Nigeria from Ukraine after he got the job as Lobi Star head coach in September 2021.
Dombraye, whose other child is in Poland, also said his wife and two children were supposed to join him in Nigeria on Sunday but their flight was canceled due to the crisis.
“I have two kids and one of them is in Poland. He is a Polish citizen while the other one who is 5-year-old is currently with my wife,” he added.
“I followed the crisis on CNN since the first day it started. My wife and I thought the war will not escalate as we never anticipated it was ever going to happen. Even my wife said there would be no fight or war. Now, she is blaming herself and I am also blaming myself, wishing they had relocated earlier.
“The worst part of it is that she has a Nigeria visa already. She was supposed to return as her flight originally was supposed to be yesterday to Nigeria, so, everything is so painful.
“We were both residing there. I have lived there since 2002. I based there like a dual citizen but moved down to Nigeria when I got the job as Lobi Star head coach in Nigeria. I have always wanted to come to Nigeria to coach. So, when I returned to Nigeria, I asked my wife to hold on for a few months until I am properly settled in the new space.
“Their flight was supposed to be yesterday. I returned to Nigeria on 6th of September 2021 as Lobi Stars football coach of Makurdi in the Nigerian Professional Football League ( NPFL).”
The 42-year-old also expressed concerns over his inability to rescue his family, adding that “this is the worst thing to happen to any parent.”
“As a football coach, I am trying to put on a brave face when I go out to meet my players but when I am indoors, it’s a different thing. It’s not like I am crying but I am feeling bad because I can’t actually do anything. With my 5-year-old kid trapped in a crisis area and I can’t help, It’s very bad. That is the worst thing to happen to any parent,” he continued.
“Yesterday, they were at home and today we decided to board the train that will take them to Lviv, a border town close to Poland so that my 18-year-old son who lives in Poland as a citizen would pick them up but the train was cancelled. They are currently looking for other alternatives to get there.
“I am worried because getting there is about 12 hours and it’s not a fast train.”
Dombraye is a former Super Eagles player who had played professionally in Poland and other parts of eastern Europe.