Lebanese Lions RB troubled

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Mark Nohra is trying to get ready to battle his former team - the Edmonton Eskimos - tomorrow night, but you can't blame the B.C. Lions' special teams starter if his mind starts to wander to a much more important battle. A native of Beirut, Nohra still has nearly 40 relatives trapped inside Lebanon, which has become an awful war zone.

FOOTBALL GAME MEANS LITTLE

"In reality, this football game really means nothing," said Nohra yesterday.

"But it's a fine line (of concentration) ... and (playing football) is the job I am being paid to do."

The last time Nohra heard from any of his relatives was through an e-mail three days ago.

"But so far, all of (my family) is still alive," he said with plenty of hope.

The majority of his family is based in Beirut - and when the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerillas started last month, they weren't in a neighbourhood that was a main danger zone.

"Initially, they were a ways from the fighting, but now they are - (Israel) is bombing those areas.

"Now they're definitely at risk."

TOUGH TO LEAVE BEIRUT

Complicating matters is the fact some of Beirut's infrastructure is in shambles, meaning fleeing the city on safe, normal roads appears to be very difficult.

"My first cousin is seven months' pregnant and they can't risk taking her out of Beirut," continued Nohra.

Born in the midst of a civil war in Lebanon in 1973, Nohra was taken out of the war zone soon afterward and eventually landed in Canada. But he still feels plenty of pain for his homeland.

"I'm a Canadian playing pro football," said the 32-year-old, "but to feel the anger (I have), I can't imagine what the people are feeling (in Lebanon right now). (The fighting) is setting (Lebanon) back decades. It has destroyed that country and I don't know how they will recover."

Nohra wants a ceasefire right now.

"I'm for peace, that's the bottom line," he stated. "There has to be a better way."


Photos