Shillong, Apr 22: Many people ‘eat football’ and ‘breathe football’ but in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic the world’s most popular sport is firmly in the background as the planet struggles to overcome the virus.

Eager to do his part and hoping that others do theirs too is renowned football coach Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet, who remains positive that normality can be restored if we all abide by the advice to maintain social distancing to beat the coronavirus.

“Covid-19 hasn’t spared any country but despite the crisis we are able to cope by taking safety measures and I believe that we will surely overcome this,” Nongbet told the All India Radio North Eastern Service in a programme broadcast today. “In this scenario it isn’t appropriate that we leave our homes unless for a very good reason. We have to listen to the government and abide by whatever they ask us to do because it’s for the better.”

Although he remains at home, Nongbet has kept busy by working out, staying in touch with his young players and involving himself in an online course set up by the Association of Indian Football Coaches.

He and fellow educators and licensed coaches Alison Kharsyntiew, Arki Nongrum and Birendra Thapa are conducting the eight module webinar, which began last week, for coaches in Meghalaya.

“It’s a way to communicate with coaches all over the country, have the coaches community connect with each other and share knowledge with each other,” Nongbet said.

Nongbet, who has led Shillong Lajong to the Elite League (then called the U-18 Youth League) title in 2018 and H Elias Higher Secondary School to the Subroto Cup U-17 boys title in 2019, has also been keeping a check on his players to make sure that they maintain their fitness levels even while off the pitch.

“We are keeping in touch with the players, sending them emails and using WhatsApp to show them video exercises and other activities that they have to perform while at home. They should do this for half an hour or 45 minutes a day,” he said. “We are doing what we can from our end but we have to trust them in terms of discipline and they are very motivated and are sharing videos of their own workouts with us.”

The Subroto Cup is one tournament whose future hangs in the balance. Despite the nationals taking place in the second half of the year, the competition typically begins in May at the block level before progressing to the district and state levels.

“Subroto starts from May, so we are still hopeful but don’t know if any decision has been made. But being positive, I believe it should happen because we can keep ourselves and the players involved by training and keeping up their performance levels,” he opined.

Obviously, having that competition or any other depends on the progress of the battle against Covid-19. It could be so easy to feel negative about the way things are at the moment but Nongbet insists on staying positive.

“We should all be positive and the whole world is trying to make good things happen. We all want things to get back to normal. To any youngsters into football or other sport, I encourage them to keep working out. There are many exercises you can copy from online and I believe that we have to continue with these and not sit back. Be positive and be ready for the time when we get back to normal,” he signed off by saying.

(File photo)

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