COVID-19: How Nigerian footballers are adapting to lockdown

FOOTBALLERS: Plateau United
Plateau United

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a complete shutdown of sporting activities across the globe, including in Nigeria.

Hundreds of Nigerian sportsmen and women are now at home and are only condemned to personal workout to keep fit.

Only recently, one of the most anticipated sporting events in the world, the Olympic Games, that ought to commence on July 24 and last till August 9 this year was postponed to next year because of the virus.

The Tokyo Games will now run from July 23, 2021, till August 8, 2021, while the Paralympics will be held August 24 through September 5, 2021.

Back at home, the country’s Olympic known as National Sports Festival was postponed just five days to the flag-off by the government. No official date has been fixed for the festival yet.

In the midst of all these, Nigerian sporting personalities especially the footballers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES say even though they are bored, they are adapting fast to the present realities even as they pray for a quick solution to the COVID-19.

Boredom in lockdown

Super Eagles Striker, Sikiru Alimi, who currently plays for Stade Tunisien in Tunisia, said the stay at home and suspension of sporting activities have not been easy.

“It hasn’t been easy, not a normal life anymore. I am trying to keep fit at home and maintaining good hygiene, I play games and see lots of movies to kill boredom, Surely it’s affecting but no regular training sessions and the likes which are a big loss, Staying at home is too boring and not for me, I have been learning new things every day,” he said.

For Nigeria U17 Golden Eaglets free-kick expert, Wisdom Ubani, who featured at the 2019, U17 African Cup of Nations in Tanzania where he scored two goals, he has not been himself since the shutdown of activities.

Ubani said: “I don’t feel good at all because this stay at home has been affecting me, i just do work out and personal training to equip myself But it’s not up to what I need.”

On his part, Nigeria U20 Flying Eagles captain, Ikouwem Utin, described the coronavirus as one of the ways that God is using to punish people for sins.

He said: “It’s a bad experience because it happened when the season is still on, but we have a lesson to learn from it as well.”

“Actually! It happened for us to know that we can’t do anything without God, it’s time for us to ask God to forgive us. We can’t do anything than to stay safe at home an also do a personal workout at home” he added.

Super Eagles and Kano Pillars goalkeeper, Suraj Ayeleso, who won the 2017 League bloggers (LBA) goalkeeper of the season award after keeping 16 clean sheets in the 2016/2017 NPFL season, added that it has not been easy to cope without doing what he knows how to do best.

He said, “Well it hasn’t been easy because you can’t even do anything due to the total lockdown, Of course, it’s affecting, if you are not able to do your work even on your own it makes me bored.”

Plateau United captain, Elisha Globe, also expressed the displeasure of staying at home for weeks, saying that he is relaxing because of the break.

“Definitely it’s affecting, because for us to be at home now for weeks without proper training, but we are just relaxed because of the break, we are still working on ourselves and keeping fit,” he said.

Self-development

Meanwhile, Osho Oluwafisoye, Manager of Ablaze Football Academy, has urged players to use this period for self-development.

He said he has been monitoring how the players have been spending their time during this lockdown.

“Well, we get calls from the boys on how they have missed the game and all, however, we keep contact with most players, especially the key ones. We monitor their training session right from home, getting videos of their daily workouts.

“As an academy, we call the parent to let them know the importance of their kids being in shape before resumption.

“Of course there is nothing like been together with the lads, however as an academy development is key and if they can focus on some personal training at home, it would help a lot.

“We hope to get back soon but upon that, we will continue the close monitoring,” he concluded.



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