We live in fear after earthquake– Turkey-based Nigerian footballer Babajide


Adana Dermispor winger Babajide David tells JOHNNY EDWARD how scared he was after an earthquake rocked Turkey on Monday, the state of Nigerian footballers there, and the situation in the European nation, in this interview

How is the situation in Turkey after the earthquake that rocked the country on Monday?

It is so scary at the moment because the death toll is increasing. The city where my club is based is not actually affected by the earthquake. I have never experienced this in my life watching people on television lose their lives and valuables while others scamper for safety from one city to another. Our city, Adana at the moment is filled with those who lost their homes to the earthquake. But efforts are being made to ensure we stay safe here and pray that this ends soonest because the death recorded so far is not good at all, but again those lives rescued makes all of us very happy. The way some of the survivors are living is not nice at all. Looking out through the window blinds, I see groups of survivors wrap themselves in blankets, sitting on plastic chairs trying to keep themselves warm around a fire because it’s freezing cold here. Some also stay in mosques and other parts on the streets.

How scared were you when the earthquake begun?

I was very scared because we felt the tremor like they were drilling a wall close to your house. I stayed close to the windows most times not to be caught off guard and if I had to run for safety, but soon after we were contacted by our club that our city was safe and that we should not panic. But nobody believed that until we attended training. Watching off your shoulders isn’t really the best way to live because nobody knows what would happen next.

When you heard Ghanaian midfielder Christian Atsu was trapped in the earthquake rubble for hours, how did you feel?

I was devastated initially because I feared for the worst. He is my friend and I was looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday when we (Adana Dermispor) play host to his team (Hatayspor). Thank God he was rescued from one of the collapsed buildings and he is getting medical attention. I wish him speedy recovery. Hopefully, at the appropriate time, we will meet again. Though I heard his whereabouts is unknown. I can’t imagine what he went through at that bad time. I’m happy he is still with us. I hope other individuals, not just sportsmen and women trapped, are all rescued too. Also, my condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the earthquake.

Now that the Turkish league has been suspended, what are your plans?

Well, at the moment my plan is to stay safe now that the league has been suspended and schools shut. Also the Turkish government has announced a three-month state of emergency in the earthquake areas, so I’m indoors. I still trained on Monday and Tuesday. It’s just that we live in fear but I pray that this bad time comes to an end.

Are you planning on leaving Turkey right now?

Even if I wanted to, there are no means to leave because even before the earthquake, domestic and international flights were canceled due to the expected harsh snowy weather conditions in the country. And now that there’s an earthquake, how do we even get to the airport? Just pray for us here, we need prayers to overcome this disaster?

Will this earthquake incident make you have a rethink about playing in Turkey?

No, it won’t. I have a contract that runs until next summer and I intend to honour it. Nobody prays for things like this to happen but I’d be keeping my options close to myself. I love playing here (Turkey) and I’m happy things can only get better as a player for me here. When it is time to take that step we will decide.

How is your compatriot and teammate Henry Onyekuru doinga?

He is doing well and safe as well. He’s our top scorer here and I’m happy to be playing with him.

Are you both together in the same place?

At the moment, he is not.

Adana were on a five-game unbeaten run and are currently fifth in the Turkish Super Lig table, do you think the league suspension will affect your club form?

I hope it does not as we are confident of qualifying for the Europa League next season; that’s our main target, and I’m hopeful we will achieve it for our fans and ourselves as well. I want to help the team in any way I can. We want to finish the league in the best position we can. I don’t think the suspension of the league will derail our ambition. I believe we will achieve great things this season, despite the disaster. There are many experienced players playing at very high levels. With these players I believe that we will finish the league in a very good place. Adana Demirspor are a club with history. They are a very big club. And Adana is also a big city. I am looking forward to the restart of the league as soon as possible when this is over. I am very happy to be here. It was an easy decision for me when I first started meeting with the club because Adana wanted me.

Your have played in Denmark, Norway, Cyprus and now Turkey. What is the experience like and how would you compare those leagues?

The Turkish league is ranked higher than the Danish, Norwegian and Cypriot leagues and I love it here because of the pace, intensity and technical play as well. I loved my spell at Midtjylland, Omonia Nikosia and Rosenborg, but I’m enjoying every bit of my time here in Turkey from my short spell at Hatayspor till date.