Monday 7 March 2022

Our own Ukranian

On Saturday The Times had a feature on our Academy coach Sergei Baltacha.  We should pause to reflect on what he has gone through and is going through.  Charlton as a club comes well out of the article.  We do look after our own.

'At the Charlton Athletic training ground the kindness and respect shown to Sergei Baltacha is plain to see.  People approach unprompted and give the academy coach hugs.  He has been offered days off but says thank you but no.  Charlton and football are his escape because when he is home reality invades again.'

Four or five times a day he calls his 67-year old brother Georgi in Kyiv who is waiting in his apartment ' armed with hope and a Kalashnikov.

He was the first Soviet citizen to emerge from behind the Iron Curtain to play football for an English club, Ipswich Town in 1988.

His late daughter Elena, despite struggling with a debilitating liver condition, she became a British No.1 tennis player before she died from cancer aged 30 in 2014.

What upsets him is that when he grew up in the USSR he felt there was a brotherhood between the different nations.   'His trauma is that while the fighting continues, all he can do is watch.'

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