“Fifty young men came in with bats and baseball bats and held us hostage for five hours” – The Athletic


“It should have been scary, but at the time I was really annoyed that I couldn’t do my workout,” said Paul Ashworth with a smile, remembering the time his team were held to ransom in the middle. of a workout. by a group of men armed with baseball bats.

At the time, Ashworth was head coach of Sunshine Stars FC in the Nigerian Premier League in what turned out to be one of the strangest days of a career that was unconventional for an English manager, having taken him to Latvia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

“We were training the first team on the stadium field because it was an Astroturf field. The stadium was surrounded by fences but 50 young men came in with bats and baseball bats and things like that, took our cones and balls and made us sit in the grandstand and kept us there for four or five. time. They were from another government organization and they had not been paid, so they were protesting against the government and the way they could be paid in their eyes was to demand a ransom from us.

“I talked to them and there were a few waving hands all over the place and arguing with the staff, but eventually we just decided to sit in the shade in the gallery until the police arrived and the government ministers come and talk to them. The police came down and I was amazed that they didn’t arrest any of them. They were just talking and there were no arrests, this negotiation went on for another two hours until the point where we were finally released after four hours sitting in the sun. “

Ashworth had joined Sunshine Stars 23 years after starting his coaching career which began as a youth coach at Cambridge United in 1992.

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