Except halting human lives and cancelling all sports activities around the world, the novel Coronavirus pandemic has been the reason of many sportspersons, who have been stranded away from their countries. Soon after the travel ban was imposed, many foreign athletes remained in India, unable to fly back to their home. Such was the case of Randy Juan Muller, a footballer from Ghana, who spent 74 days in the country, but not in any football club or hotel, at the Mumbai airport!
Randy Juan Muller had flown to India back in November 2019, to play for ORPC Kechery, a seven-a-side club from Kerala. However, while on the way to catch his Kenya Airways flight from Mumbai, the player found the international travel ban has cancelled all flights, and was left stranded at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport since 21st march, four days before the nationwide lock down was imposed by the government.
However, almost four months of his solitary confinement at the airport, Muller was approached by Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena for assistance. The player is now shifted to a nearby hotel, as he waits for his jet back to Ghana.
“I came here on a six-month visa. We only get around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per match. I hardly played any matches and had spent around Rs 1.5 lakh for visa and tickets,” Muller said, sharing his experience.
“After the lock down was announced in India, I planned to return home and even bought a flight ticket for March 30 from Mumbai to Ghana via Kenya. But before I could return, the government cancelled all international flights and I was stuck here,” he added.
While he was unable to find any hotels and had to remain at the airport with only a few thousand rupees, Muller received assistance from the CISF, housekeeping and security staff. Many passangers who were coming back via rescue flights, also reached out to help him.
“He would spend his time at the airport’s fancy artificial gardens and somehow buy food from stalls and pass his time with the airport staff. Muller told me the airport staff was very helpful,” Rahul Kanal, Yuva Sena’s office-bearer said.
With the assistance of Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, Muller was moved to a hotel in Bandra. Kanal recently shared a clip on Twitter where the player, now in the comfort of a room, thanked both Thackeray and Kanal for their helping hand.
Ghanian Footballer stranded for 74 days due to lockdown at Mumbai International Airport… @rogee99 ,23 years wanted to thank @AUThackeray ji and @AbhaGoradia ji he was crying in happinesss when I met him at the airport , best feeling a youth could get and yes pic.twitter.com/F3gaYwfwts
— Rahul.N.Kanal (@Iamrahulkanal) June 3, 2020