After Milovan Kapor missed most of his wife’s pregnancy, the young couple was finally reunited just in time, as Atlético Ottawa’s burly centre-back was able to witness the birth of his son.
For a while, though, it looked as though he wouldn’t be there for the momentous occasion.
Kapor played out the 2020 Canadian Premier League season at The Island Games in Charlottetown while his wife Lucia – who was based in Slovakia – was due to have their first child.
“I didn’t see my wife from January until September – that’s nine months,” Kapor told CanPL.ca via WhatsApp from Slovakia.
“Everybody has had their struggles with COVID; jobs being lost, illness, everything… but not being able to be with your significant other just to lend a helping hand here and there was tough, but we got through it.”
The 29-year-old, Toronto-born centre-back learned of Lucia’s pregnancy during a solo trip home to see family this past winter. After the visit, he flew back to Uzbekistan to rejoin his club FK Buxoro. Lucia was supposed to travel from Slovakia to Uzbekistan in order to be together with her husband.
But then in a flash, the Uzbek season was cancelled, and Kapor returned to Canada, and his life turned completely upside down.
“I tried to get into Slovakia (from Uzbekistan) but they closed their borders to all foreigners. I had to go all the way to Canada,” Kapor explained.
“We waited until the first trimester to finish and the second one to start before we announced (the pregnancy) and, well, we were thousands of kilometres away by then. Thankfully, she had her family – her parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, everybody around there helping out, so she wasn’t completely alone.”
Kapor, meanwhile, was very much alone. So, he picked up the phone and reached out to Canada’s newest professional club, Atlético Ottawa.
“I wasn’t really planning on coming back home and playing in Canada in the near future,” Kapor admitted. “But, I was there, so we kept in touch.”
Atlético CEO Fernando Lopez kept in close contact with Kapor right up until July when the CPL expansion franchise was desperate to build out its roster for the yet-to-be-announced Island Games. Kapor eventually agreed to terminate his contract with Buxoro, and quickly joined his new team for a week-long training camp before he headed to PEI.
“I took the opportunity to go with Ottawa and was super happy that I did because there’s a lot of great people in that club – the players I met, staff, everybody was very professional and friendly,” Kapor said. “Fernando kept in touch with me – and that meant a lot. He was trying to see what my situation was the whole time.”
Kapor went on to make six appearances for Atlético in PEI, missing all but one match for a red card suspension. Ottawa was in contention for a second-round berth on the final matchday of the first round. Had they qualified, it would have extended Kapor’s stay in PEI, and prevented him from being with his wife as she gave birth.
Even as Ottawa’s do-or-die final match against HFX Wanderers FC loomed, Kapor kept up a stringent video chat schedule with Lucia.
“We would see each other two, three times a day through video calls just for everyday conversations, make things as normal as possible,” Kapor said.
As soon as Ottawa was eliminated from contention, Kapor bolted for the airport en route to Toronto, with the aim of going to Slovakia (travel restrictions had eased) and reuniting with his wife.
“I was a day or two in Toronto because I had to do another COVID test,” Kapor explained. “Flew to Warsaw, Poland, and then to the Czech Republic before taking a train all the way to Slovakia… It wasn’t very direct, but it was certainly worth the trip.”
Kapor finally arrived in Slovakia, just two days before his son’s birth: Leontije, “like Leo Messi,” Kapor proudly told CanPL.ca.
Lucia, Milovan, and Leo are happy and healthy – a family reunited just in time.