The country of Ukraine is seeing one of the worst invasions in modern times as Russia is relentless bombing the European nation for three days straight. Amidst all of the chaos, the Ukraine Cricket federation Chief Kobus Olivier is trying to survive in his apartment with his four dogs and a dream.
A self-proclaimed ‘cricket nomad’ from South Africa, Olivier, on a normal day would be teaching English in a private school in Kyiv and coaching young talent from Ukraine cricket, as the country is looking to join the International Cricket Council (ICC) as an associate member in July.
However, now he is holed up in his seventh-floor apartment in the capital city with his four dogs and has stocked up on a month’s supply of food, despite having lost his appetite.
“I’m coping the best (I can) under the circumstances. I’m not being brave, I’m absolutely terrified, but there’s nothing you can do. It is what it is,” Oliver, who arrived in Ukraine following stints in South Africa, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Dubai, told Reuters by telephone.
He further revealed that he was walking his canines when he heard 19 explosions and rushed back to his flat. Furthermore, he has barricaded himself in his apartment, stacking mattresses against the windows to stop shattered glass from flying through the room in case of an explosion.
“I heard nine explosions yesterday morning and that left me startled. When I looked out of the window, it was like a movie… children running across the streets, some of them with boxes in their hands that had pets in them. Their parents were visibly panicking and rows of cars were waiting in the queue to leave the city. I knew the war had come,” recounted Kobus Olivier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ukraine Cricket Federation.
“I had already withdrawn cash and stacked up rations because I knew this was coming. A lot of people did not want to believe it. Now they are near our apartment. The Russian army can enter anytime soon. I keep hearing sounds of missiles and bombs so pray for us that it all ends soon,” he told the indianexpress.com on Friday morning.
In order to distract himself, he watches TV to switch between News and Cricket, as he watches New Zealand play South Africa.
“They lie next to me and watch TV. Every now and then I give them little snacks. They are very calm, but when there’s an explosion, they are absolutely terrified,” Olivier talked about the dogs keeping him company.
Olivier, a bachelor, arrived four years ago to make his new home in the Ukrainian capital, complete with his father and a dog.
“I’ve been to 38 countries, but Kyiv for me is a unique experience - the culture, the history, the food. My dad passed away here, so it gives me a stronger bond with Kyiv. Whatever happens today or tomorrow, I’d not change anything,” he added.
The UCF has been organizing cricket for the last two decades and has a pool of 15,000 students, most of them Indian, at the senior level. Under Olivier, they are on the verge of becoming an ICC associate member, bringing them grants from the game’s governing body.
“It will attract sponsorship and motivate people here to play the game. It will be a game-changer. At the moment, nobody knows what’s going to happen. Our next tournament is in June, and I’m pretty optimistic things will be back on track by then,” he signs off.
(Reuters and Indian Express inputs)