Domestic Competitions ● Apr 13, 2020

Life without football: Staying positive and in shape

Photo: Jacob Mahler


SINGAPORE, 13 APRIL 2020 – When the 2020 Singapore football season kicked off six weeks ago, it was amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.


Various measures and protocols were put in place as the situation evolved but there was no hesitation in complying when the Ministry of Health issued a directive three weeks ago that “all events and mass gatherings must be deferred or cancelled, regardless of size”.


The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) subsequently confirmed the suspension of the current season of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) as well as all FAS-sanctioned events later that night. This included matches, training sessions and courses at all levels.


With footballing activities comprising a huge chunk of players’ lives, we speak to some of them to find out how they are coping with the current circumstances.


Young Lions captain Jacob Mahler admits that life is different without football, but he has learnt to take things in stride.


“With the suspension of the league, it has given me more time to spend with my loved ones and also to relax and enjoy my time at home with parents,” the 19-year-old said.


The midfielder added, “I miss going out on the field, training with my teammates and battling it out on the field with them as well. Football is part of our lives and it’s hard to go a day without it but I think it had to be done to protect everyone from the current situation that the world is going through.”


Women’s Under-15 National Team player Zoey Chua has also managed to find some positives in the gloomy situation.


“I miss playing football and training with my teammates but I try to look on the bright side of things,” the 14-year-old East Spring Secondary School student said. “Now, I get to spend more time on my studies!”


Photo: Lim Li Xian


While the coronavirus pandemic has forced football and other sporting events to take a backseat, our footballers still need to remain in top condition in order to hit the ground running again when the action resumes.


Women’s National Team player Lim Li Xian, who usually trains twice a week with her team, said, “It requires a lot more self-discipline to exercise on your own. I have been skipping, cycling and hiking at Bukit Timah and MacRitchie occasionally as alternatives to running, and I do swim sometimes to keep my fitness up. I don’t have a fixed programme… but I try to do lower and upper-body strengthening three to four times a week.”


Jacob added, “We have been given a programme to follow by the sports trainer in our team and I have been following it. On top of that, I have been going for a run or swim or even going to the gym just to maintain everything and make sure that the hard work done in pre-season doesn’t go to waste.”


Ball-work has also been integrated into Jacob’s daily routine and he said, “I have also been trying to keep active with the ball by going to the park for a small kick-about just to get the feeling of the ball; usually I spend about one to two hours a day on this.”


Training tips for athletes


Meanwhile, Men’s U-16 National Team Head Coach Philippe Aw has placed complete trust in his players to stay safe and healthy during this period.


“The national youth players are very young and their health and safety is the key priority in the current environment,” he said. “Most of the players, who are with their respective clubs, should have been given certain exercise routines to do at home. Players may also choose to do the home workout programme that we have sent them to complement their club’s routine. We trust our young players to follow the programmes to maintain their fitness levels.”


Indeed, there is no let-up from both our players and backroom staff during these uncertain times as they strive to deal with the situation in their own ways.


The FAS hopes that everyone, including our fans, can do their part in combating the coronavirus in the meantime and looks forward to the time when football action resumes.