•Former AFC Leopards attacker Paul Were who recently moved to the Greek side, Egaleo reckons that these are hard times for professionals like him.
•Johana Eric, who plies his trade in the second division in the same country said: “It is frustrating for football fans but it is what is needed for the safety of the people.”
As sports continue to suffer amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kenyan footballers at home and abroad have taken steps to ensure they cope away from their clubs and the training pitches and stadia.
Former AFC Leopards attacker Paul Were who recently moved to the Greek side, Egaleo reckons that these are hard times for professionals like him.
“Gym, pitches and training facilities have been closed. Everything has been postponed. I foresee the league being called off as we wait for next season. It is really hard out here,” he said.
When asked how they fend for basic needs, Were said although schools and restaurants are closed, the supermarkets are open and they can access basic needs from the establishment.
With well-known footballers hoping on an online trend dubbed “#StayHomeChallenge”, Harambee Stars left-back Eric Ouma intimates that although they are in lockdown in Sweden, fitness is of the essence as the profession demands they stay in shape.
“I have the facilities at home which can help me with training because we are required to work from home owing to the lockdown,” he said.
His counterpart, Johana Eric, who plies his trade in the second division in the same country said: “It is frustrating for football fans but it is what is needed for the safety of the people.”
The pandemic has caused the suspension of major sporting events in the world including football premier leagues in Europe.
Bandari forward Danson Chetambe lauded the authorities for the decision to limit public gatherings, saying it was for the general well being of everyone.
“I think the partial lockdown is for the good of our health and our immediate brothers and sisters around us. I am therefore doing my best to stay indoors and also keeping fit through some improvised workouts in the house on a daily basis so as not to lose the focus. I think it’s working out and we pray for this epidemic Covid19 to end soon so that we get back to normal,” said the Bandari forward.
KCB forward Enock Agwanda revealed that he is trying to keep himself fit by engaging in indoor training activities that do not necessarily require gym equipment.
“I do regular push-ups and sit-ups to ensure my body stays in shape. This to ensure that when we will resume training on the pitch. I have also been doing some little jogging early in the morning when most people are still not out and about,” he said.
Posta Rangers defender Humphrey Okoti also revealed he is sticking to indoor physical activities as he tries to keep himself and his family safe from the coronavirus threat.
“We have to adhere to the advice of the government and the club. But I am still doing some exercises at home like lifting dumbbells and other normal fitness routines like press-ups. I am happy that I do not have to venture outside to keep myself fit,” Okoth said.
Kariobangi Sharks’ midfielder Patilla Omoto says cycling around the estate is part of his exercise plans as most players continued to stay away from the club.
“Traffic is not much around where I stay and that gives me the chance to cycle around for long. I also do some physical training at home. At this moment, however, it’s not very intense. The most important thing is for us to keep safe,” he remarked.
As the footballers across the country find ways to ensure they are in good condition to resume playing once everything returns to normal,
they have been assured not to worry about the possible loss of income as the sports industry in the country remains affected by the government ban on public gatherings as part of the steps to contain the coronavirus spread.
Kenya Footballers Welfare Association (KEFWA) chairman, James Situma, admitted that the global pandemic had left the future of the current football season up in the air but advised clubs to continue catering for the welfare of their players.
“Players have contracts that are legally binding with the clubs. It must be noted though that the current situation was not foreseen by many and as such, measures to alleviate the suffering of all are just now being taken,” said Situma.
The Kefwa boss added: “We recognise that the earning of clubs has been affected but they should ensure they take care of their players because when the situation improves and things get back to normal, they will still need them.”
World over, clubs have requested their players to take pay cuts in the wake of the suspension of sports activities worldwide. Cameroonian Alex Song reportedly had his contract terminated by his Swiss club, Sion, after he and fellow teammates including ex Swiss International Johann Djorou refused to take a fifty per cent pay cut to help the club remain sustainable in the midst of these uncertain times.
“As Kefwa, we remain optimistic that everything will be resolved in an amicable way. What is important right now is to help the authorities in their quest to put the situation under control. So we do not want to pre-empt the actions that clubs will take,” Situma stated.
All football activities were suspended by Football Kenya Federation as they adhered to the government directive on public gatherings.
Consequently, all clubs stopped their training programs and hope to resume when the authorities will feel it has put the spread of coronavirus under control.