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Real Kashmir players stranded, waiting for a flight back home

BENGALURU: When can we head back home? When will we reunite with our loved ones? How long will we be in India? Ten foreigners, including coaches, players and Real Kashmir FC coach David Robertson’s wife, have been stranded in Srinagar ever since the lockdown started. These questions linger on in the minds of nationals from the UK, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe in the club.

“The situation is such that hardly anyone talks about football anymore,” said David, who is from Scotland. He is in Srinagar with his wife Kym and son Mason (son). The latter plays for the club. Alongside them, the players and support staff are staying in a hotel owned by the club owner. No one is allowed to move in and out of the hotel. Most of these players while their time away watching movies on television and playing Playstation. It is a difficult time for all, especially David, who is away from his ill mother.

“The health of my parents and my wife’s parents is a concern. I am especially very worried as my mother is undergoing chemotherapy too. It is tough,” said David, who even wrote to the British High Commission in Delhi, seeking help to go back. He has been informed that the evacuation process will start soon. “We have given the passports numbers, visas and other details. Yesterday, we got an e-mail stating that over the next few days, there will be flights out. We have to sit tight and wait. I am checking my e-mail every two minutes to see if there is any update. Everyone wants to go back home as quickly as possible. We might be able to get back home soon. The Africans (in the squad) may take a longer time,” David told this daily.
The situation is no different for English winger, Kallum Higginbotham, who is desperate to meet his wife, his two-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter. He is in constant touch with his family while his wife tries to be supportive asking Kallum to keep the spirits up.

“It is difficult. Being a dad, I should have been home, protecting my children, but I am stuck halfway across the world. As a man, you do not show emotions but when you speak to your family at this time, it gets hard. I have just got to be strong and the time will come when we will be home. Now, every mi­nute feels like an hour and days are like weeks,” said Kallum.

However, these players had an experience of a different kind recently. The valley was in a state of lockdown after the sc­rapping of Article 370. The club used the facilities of the ISL clubs to prepare for the 19-20 I-League season. But when th­ey eventually got back to Srinagar, it was tough for them to stay in touch with the outside world.

Though the situation is better, video calls cannot be made on slow internet speed with 2G resuming in January.  There is no 4G, hence the players have not been able to see their faces of the loved ones via video.

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