Global CFL Star Thiadric Hansen jumps into action as the crisis in Ukraine hits home

The humanitarian crisis rages on in Ukraine as violence spreads across the war-torn country. Fearing Russian soldiers and air raids over 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled to nearby Poland

The Polish community has responded by helping refugees find safety in a foreign land. The American football scene has been no exception, as players and coaches have donated everything from their spare rooms to military equipment to the Ukrainian cause. 

One of the most notable American football players in Poland happens to be two-time Grey Cup champion, Thiadric Hansen. The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber is spending his off-season in Poland helping run the off-season program of the Katy Wroclawskie Jaguars. When the crisis hit Poland, the German didn’t hesitate to help those who are most vulnerable.

The pass rusher helped arrange an initiative to evacuate over 50 refugees from the Ukraine, giving them food, water, and safe passage to a shelter in Germany. While Ukrainian refugees had systems in place for them in Poland, foreigners living in the Ukraine faced challenges when seeking safety or a way home.

Refugees board Hansen’s bus to Hamburg Photo: Thiadric Hansen

Hansen, like many of us, was constantly checking his newsfeed trying to find out more about the constantly growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. He noticed that foreigners and especially people of color living in the Ukraine faced additional challenges when seeking safety as a refugee. For example, the trains in Poland are free for Ukrainians, while students and other foreigners fleeing the country don’t have the same access:

“I saw people of color having problems at the border. While trains are free for Ukrainian refugees those without that paperwork have to find their own way to assistance.  What can I do, I’m close and in Poland.” 

The CFL star then teamed up with Rakiya Suleman, a family friend and Black Lives Matter organizer from his hometown in northern Germany. The two arranged transportation, food, and shelter for some of the most vulnerable refugees.

“She made all the contacts to the organisations there. She was on the phone for like three days.” Hansen added “the main force was my partner Rakiya, she did so much i couldn’t do.”

Incredibly, Hansen and Rakiya funded the entire project out of their own pockets. Fortunately, the public responded as CFL and Winnipeg fans especially chipped in, helping the two recoup a large portion of their money after the successful trip. Hansen remained humble describing his role in helping:

” I’m just gonna try to do something. I’m in a position to help. Why not let’s give it a try. Talking on Instagram is fine but, if you can help why not help.”

Since arriving in Hamburg, those who boarded the bus have been helped by German refugee programs helping them find food and shelter in Germany. The selfless CFL free agent is still keeping his eye on the crisis as Poland has become the primary home for those fleeing the Ukraine. His generous act went a long way as he used his unique platform to help those who needed it most.

“We had people some people that really had nothing. They had just left the country. I hope they get the help, I couldn’t do it myself, we did the little part of bringing them there.”

Donate to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine here

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and