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Adam Chabukiani: Defying All Odds

The story of a young Georgian refugee, born through the chaos of the Abkhazia War to find his feet in the footballing world.
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Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-05 19:15
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
14 November 1992.

They were killing everyone, who was Georgian. Every road was blocked. There was only one way out, through the mountains. It was terrible and horrific, nobody knew where it ended or what would happen on the way.

There were children, women and elderly people. Everyone was marching not knowing where they are headed. We were cold, hungry, there was no water. We marched the whole day. By the end of the day we were tired and could not go on. To rest, it meant to die, so we marched and marched. Some woman near me didn't make it, she had fallen dead. As we marched, we saw people frozen and dead, they apparently stopped for a break and it was their end.

The path never ended, it seemed that we would die at any time. One young girl, who marched beside me all the way from Sukhumi was pregnant. She delivered her baby in the mountains. The child died on the third day of our deadly march. She separated from us and we never saw her again. Finally we made it into the Svan villages. Only women and children were allowed in their huts. Buses came later on that day. We were then taken to Zugdidi.

I was only a five-year-old. I had already seen more chaos and destruction in five years than most had in their life. I lived in Abkhazia over 20 years ago now, in the small town of Akhaldaba, Georgia. Abkhaz attacked our village on September 16, 1993. It was impossible to hide anywhere from the bullets which rained down on us.

A Russian-sounding man, dressed in military uniform asked my mother if she had ever had sex with a Cossack. He grabbed her and ripped off her clothes, my father, trying to intervene such assault received a blast in the head from the butt of his AK47 rifle. "We will kill you, but we will do so slowly." They said.

"We will kill you..." Them words repeated itself uncontrollably to this day. After escaping this violent world Abkhazia had become, we landed in France, counted as refugees. We were told we were heading for Britain, they speak English, something a five-year-old couldn't get his head around.

Me and my family found ourselves based in a small flat in Pudsey, near Bradford. The local people all supported football or rugby, Leeds United, Rotherham, Bradford City, Leeds Rhinos - you name it, everyone supported different teams. It was then I became intrigued about Bradford City. The club had just drawn 1-1 with Preston North End in the F.A. Cup when my family arrived in Bradford. The club were 5th placed in the English Division Two.

Obviously, my family did not have much money to go around spending like mad. I could not afford to attend Bradford City matches. I had to find an alternative. Bradford Park Avenue was perfect for me. I used to sneak into the games at half-time when the gates opened for people to have a cigarette, all for free. If I was caught, I pretended I couldn't speak English and got away with it - after all, the club were only losing 50 pence in match ticket sales.

This is how my story began...
This post was edited by Jack (2015-11-15 02:30, 2 years ago)
InfraRed's avatar Group InfraRed 2015-10-05 19:38
gb 1765 posts 143 likes joined Nov 09, 2013
oh my god man, i had chills.

amazing writing, amazing start - good luck!

ScottishRooster's avatar Group ScottishRooster 2015-10-06 03:02
00 21 posts joined Jul 17, 2015
Intriguing Start!
Zed's avatar Group Zed 2015-10-06 12:50
nl 826 posts 122 likes joined Jun 01, 2014
This has the potential to become an amazing story. It's greatly written and the story looks to be very interesting too. Good luck!
Eisern Union - Forza PSV
C.J.Lippo's avatar Group C.J.Lippo 2015-10-06 21:10
au 827 posts 99 likes joined Feb 26, 2015
Sensational start mate, beautifully written. Have a soft spot for Bradford PA as well. This is shaping as one of my favourites already!
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-07 17:00
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
InfraRed, ScottishRooster, Zed & C.J.Lippo: Thanks for the comments lads :D
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-07 17:26
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
4 September 1994.

This is me, Adam Chabukiani at seven years old now. My parents moved me into Waterloo Primary School in Pudsey about a month ago, this is my first day at school.

I'd made a few friends on the streets of Sandringham Avenue, a little council estate located on a cul-de-sac. There was Daniel and Mateusz, from Poland. Me and Mateusz got on better than I did Daniel, not just us two, but our families. We had both been through troublesome times elsewhere and found ourselves here.

Mateusz, a small, black-haired and polite young boy had been removed from his home in a poor area of Northern Poland. This left his family on the streets for weeks on end before making the move over to Great Britain when Mateusz was just two years old.

Daniel had lived in the same house he was born in seven years ago. He had a very broad, and typically high-pitched Yorkshire accent. His father worked as a binman for Leeds City Council, and was paid very poorly. His mother had been unemployed for two years by the time I first met Daniel, his house was just three doors down the road, but like me, the council paid for this.

Our typical day out was a trip to Pudsey Park, where we'd normally swing on the swings there, slide down the slides, and if we found a spare football in the bushes, we'd have the luxury of playing the beautiful game - at least until the nasty older and bigger boys came over and took the football from us.

I showed my friends how I managed to get into Bradford Park Avenue matches, through the half-time gates where the big men go out of the stadium for their cigarette with the stadium being a smoke-free zone.

I told my father I wanted to be a footballer after a while, with himself struggling to hold down a part-time job he had been taken on at the local high school Crawshaw. He sighed at me, calmly telling me I shouldn't be thinking about careers at my age, especially not a career in the big, wide world of football. Can a boy not dream?

If you asked any typical young boy what he wanted to be when he was older, the least expected reply you were likely to receive was "I want to be a striker for Bradford Park Avenue.", but that was me, Horsfall Stadium had become a second home to me. Maybe I was being too ahead of myself, our family were inches away from death just under two years ago and I was already being sucked into the dream of footballing glory. My father's stern words wouldn't stop me trying, though.
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-10 22:01
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
14 November 1994

It's been two years since I moved to England after the chaos in Georgia. This night, I woke up panting in my bed at 3:32 AM. I had a dream, coinciding with such a date. It was more of a flashback than anything, but it scared me so much it took me another hour to get back to sleep, and even then I had to take the day off school I was in such a state.

It was strange, in the dream I had spent the entire time looking at myself, in third-person. I saw my own five-year-old self travelling up that hill, my legs just about giving way. See that is what confused me and still does to this day, that dream.

Who was I in that dream? Why didn't I just relive the events in my own normal self? It's these questions that bug me and repeat themselves over and over in my head.

In my dream, my person had been a constant twenty yards behind me and my family, meaning whoever it was could see our movements all the way through our death march.

I had reached the part where the Russian Cossack had ripped my mothers clothes from her, committing sick acts on my poor mummy. My person had just walked past our family as this was happening, though. He had stopped to look at us for a good ten seconds. This man, he saw me crying, he saw my sister screaming, he saw my helpless mother and the thud of the AK47's butt clouting my father on the nose was what woke me up, like a slap in my face as I slept uneasily.

The dream was wholly horrible, as it was recalling the most sickening event in my life thus far. The weirdest thing about my dream, though? The closest Abkhazian victim, forced from their home by the Russians was at least 200 yards in front of us. Nobody walked past us.
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan 2015-10-19 18:10
gb 614 posts 14 likes joined Apr 14, 2012
This is brilliant. My Dad grew up in Pudsey and we're living there again now, so if you need at any point to be precisely factual about anything, give me a shout!
Justice's avatar Group Justice 2015-10-20 18:37
00 4297 posts 544 likes joined Feb 11, 2013
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-24 11:47
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
Josh: Cheers mate, I've got a few relatives and my girlfriend lives in Pudsey so that's handy, but if there's anything I need to know you're my man ;)

Justice: As always ;) :))
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-24 12:07
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
11 December 1994

It's almost Christmas time now, the Christmas Tree is up in our living room, the tinsel is wrapped around the television stand and above the mirror, the pile of presents is building up slowly, the Christmas music is blaring out anywhere you go, the spirits of people is high. It's Christmas time now.

I walked into the living room to see a sight I never ever wanted to see again. My mother was bawling her eyes out on the sofa, with 'Do They Know It's Christmas Time' by Band Aid softly playing in the background. I place myself next to her and give her a tight hug before saying anything, realising she was holding a note in her left hand.

"What's up mum?" I asked her innocently.

"It's your dad, he's going to be away for a while darling." She replied through her tears that were seeping down to her chin before dripping delicately onto her polka dot pyjamas.

I thought nothing of this when I first heard it, drawing the conclusion that he was away on work duties somewhere, I never got around to asking my mum where he was, scared it would only stress her out more than she was already.

It was a Sunday morning, bitterly cold with the winter weather invading open windows wherever. I never saw the note, it was scrumpled up inside my mother's palm and I could not find it anywhere after.

I had broken up for the Christmas holidays from school, and my mood was generally good, expecting my father back for Christmas Day. He wasn't. I waited for New Year's Eve for him, spending a lot of my day gazing out of the window, expecting a local taxi to pull up with my father a passenger, that was before my mother dragged me away from the window. She knew where my father was, but the young boy I was wouldn't have been able to handle the truth.

I continued to hang around with my schoolmates through the holidays, but the disappearance of my father disturbed my enjoyment and I was often caught looking down and depressed by my friends, before quickly putting a smile on my face to hide my dark feelings about dads whereabouts.
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-28 21:04
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
14 August 1995

In a week where news leaked that Saddam Hussein was preparing nuclear weapons, everyday folks were still getting slaughtered in Bosnia and Mike Tyson was making his comeback, tabloids and broadsheets alike went Britpop crazy.

It's August 1995, NME Magazine were covering today's event, The Battle of Britpop, The British Heavyweight Championship, Middle Class vs Working Class. It was the Southern giants Blur versus the Manchester blue-collar workers Oasis.

I sided with Oasis, being based in the North and never going further South than bloody Sheffield myself, and I probably preferred them to Blur as well, so I went out to my nearest HMV and slapped Roll With It onto the counter.

I loved Liam Gallagher's arrogance towards the media and his iconic stance while performing, with at least one hand behind his back at all times, projecting the power to add to his songs.

Besides Oasis, I loved The Stone Roses and going back further, The Jam from Woking with their "angry young men" outlook and fast tempos of their punk rock contemporaries.

When I got home, I was quick to stick on my new purchase, racing upstairs. I put it on, four minutes later I wanted to go back and return it. It was f**king s**t. I expected it to have the same vibe and the same Oasis feel to it as Cigarettes & Alcohol or maybe Live Forever. Roll With It was awful.

I raced out to see my friend Daniel, I knew he liked Blur and just supposed he had bought Blur's single Country House, I wanted to see if I had wasted my money on Roll With It.

They were both as bad as each other if I'm honest, I'd liked Blur's Parklife, but Country House didn't really catch my fancy.

But this music taste was a theme that set the tone for the rest of my life, working class, living in the struggle and who knows what else could happen in the future?
Jack's avatar Group Jack 2015-10-29 13:29
gb 3034 posts 315 likes joined Mar 29, 2013
3 July 1997

It was my tenth birthday on this date, I'd managed to get myself a job at the local corner shop called Wilkinson's as a Paper Boy. It was decent pay if I'm honest, and the man who ran it was lovely man, Geordie he was, although by his accent it would be very difficult to tell due to the Yorkshire twang that had introduced itself to his vocal chords as a result of the decades he had lived here.

Although he was approaching 65, he had very modern views about society and that was a surprise to me considering the sexist or racist ideas that had got into some of the old men I had listened into whilst walking around my local area. It was quite refreshing, and eventually I told him about my experiences in Abkhazia and with my father's disappearance. Mr. Wilkinson was absolutely brilliant to me and I felt like I could finally open up to somebody mature enough to understand my upbringing other than my mother, who would just burst into tears at the first mention of it.

Mr. Wilkinson's first name was Alan, and I was told to use that as his name if I wanted as 'Mr. Wilkinson' took longer to say. Because of Alan's will to listen to me whenever he had become an integral part of my life, and I had even thought to myself: 'What if Mr. Wilkinson was my dad?' A silly question I know, but our relationship was getting ever-closer he had become a father-like figure to me in the years I worked for me.

For my birthday he had given me the gift of five free chocolate bars of my choice, big or small. I obviously chose the biggest ones and that was a massive compliment to me as I knew he would not give such an appreciation to any other of his employees.

From my mother I had received a brand new jumper from Slazenger, it was grey and a bit baggy, which she knew I preferred due to my early obsession with The Stone Roses with their iconic all-baggy clothing. Sadly I had still not heard from my father, and I still didn't know what had happened to him.
LFC's avatar LFC 2015-10-29 15:21
00 1504 posts 125 likes joined Jul 19, 2013
Great start to this, interesting to see where you end up...

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