Some 131 Ukrainian athletes playing in the country’s amateur soccer teams have arrived in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Trabzon after leaving their hometown due to the Russian invasion.
The athletes were welcomed at Trabzon airport by Ahmet Ağaoğlu, president of the Clubs Union Foundation and also of Trabzonspor.
Ağaoğlu said 53 of the athletes will play in neighboring Rize province, 60 of them will be hosted in Trabzon, while the rest will be in Sivas, Kayseri and Antalya provinces.
Stressing that they will welcome 60 Ukrainian athletes and their six parents to the Özkan Sümer Football Academy, Ağaoğlu said the athletes will be in Turkey until conditions in Ukraine return to normal.
He also pointed out that almost all the athletes came from the city of Mariupol, where the clashes were the most violent.
“They no longer have homes, training grounds or clubs,” he said, adding that the athletes are between 10 and 16 years old and have suffered great trauma.
“Anyway, everyone’s homeland, everyone’s land and their own home is where they want to go. They are our guests until conditions in their country return to normal, but if they want to stay, our door is open to them,” Ağaoğlu said.
“We are the grandchildren of ancestors who have opened their doors to people and societies in distress for centuries, welcoming them to this land,” he noted.