Syrian striker Amad Ahmad Al Kaddour, who has signed up with the Churchill Brothers, Goa, for the season 2013-14, is optimistic about peace in his war-torn country.
Civil strife between forces loyal to the Baath government headed by President Bashar al-Assad and those seeking to oust it has plunged Syria into devastation.
It has been a horrific time for the striker and his family back home. Though the shift to India has given him a respite, the footballer is worried about his family’s safety there.
“My city Aleppo has turned into a battlefield. I urge Indians to pray for my family’s safety and well-being,” said Ahmad in his first interview after arriving in India on September 14.
Recounting the horror, Ahmad, who does not want to comment on the civil war, said: “During a practice session, we were hit by missiles and gunfire, and my goalkeeper was injured in the firing that went for over an hour. We had to run for shelter. I would not like to comment on the war or about President Assad, as I fear my family members could be harmed.”
Ahmad, who signed up with Churchill Brothers on Thursday, said that football is worshiped in his country and many of the players have left for other countries. “I only pray that this war ends as I want to go back and play for my country,” he said.
“The war has taken a heavy toll on the footballers in Aleppo, where shooting and bombing is very common. The recent blast has left Ahmad Al Obid, a goalkeeper of the Karama Club and national team, seriously injured. He has been ruled out of the game,” said Ahmad, adding, “It was also very sad when our national player Zakaria Yusuf lost his life.”
According to Ahmad, a lot of Syrians are playing professional football in Lebanon these days.
Around 30 players are plying their trade in Jordan and other countries.
“I am thankful to Churchill Brothers for giving me this opportunity and I will give my best for the club. It’s a pleasure for me to be part of this wonderful club which has seen so much success in the Indian football,” he said.
Churchill Brothers coach Mariano Dias said, “Ahmad is one of the best players of the side, but he is doubtful for the opener against Salgaocar as he is yet to get familiar with other players in the side.”
Football is Syria’s top sport. There is a lot of passion for the game in the country and all the clubs and the national team is followed with keen interest by the people along with the media.
It is off season in Syria now. Ahmad’s club Al Shorta plays in the AFC Cup while home matches are being held in Lebanon due to the disturbances. The war affected the local leagues that ended last week with just 10 participating teams.