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‘…with time we gonna pull through and football will be back’, she says as her sweaty gloom face brightens up with an infectious smile of hope.
It has been some fifty-three days since official football was played in the country as the league fell to the coronavirus pandemic and Nana Yaa Mingle, a winger with Dansoman-based Faith Ladies says “I miss football very much because training alone without playing doesn’t amount to anything”.
Ghana has gone through three phases in the fight against the coronavirus. Pre, during and post lockdown and in all this, one constant element has been the absence of football which was made possible by the ban on all forms of social gatherings with a membership of more than 25.
But for a sport where constant training and hard work are equally important if not more than raw talent, a footballer doesn’t have the luxury of pulling his her legs off the training pedal and wait for the storm to be over before working out.
Whichever direction the fight against the virus takes, the footballer must find a way to train, keep his or her weight and maintain his or her sharpness.
This is why the three-week lockdown which meant people could only go out for essentials was such a big blow to footballers and all sportsmen alike.
But there has to be a way. The regular footballer had to find a way to maintain his or her weight.
“It was a difficult period as we could not go out and do anything. You know as footballers we always train at the park or beaches but due to the lockdown, I had to do skipping ropes in my room. Run around and some aerobics. It was not easy at all because you know as a goalkeeper you have to be training with balls to keep your sharpness”, says Patricia Mantey, an experienced goalkeeper who has for years been the number one goalie for Ghana’s Black Queens.
No lockdown means she and a few other goalies can work out at the beach while strictly adhering to the social distancing protocols.
With her are two goalkeepers who are on the books of Kotoko and Hearts of Oak and some other young ones who aspire to reach and possibly surpass her high achievements.
Up and down she dives in the sand at the Mamprobi beach as Kotoko’s Kwame Baah, Hearts’ Ben Mensah and her highly experienced trainer put her through her paces.
Her agility and alertness are as sharp it could ever be and her appearance sends the message of someone who has been working tirelessly not to add an extra kilo to her weight.
“During the lockdown, I used to train at home. Press-ups, stomachs and other light training just to keep me in shape but once the lockdown was lifted, we decided to train here and this is where I have been training. As a professional, you have to always prepare for the game. You can’t say that because there is no football you are just going to be home. It’s not really difficult training with these guys because I have been with them since I was young”.
One player who will feel hard done if the league is terminated and scrapped from the history books of Ghana football is Hasacaas Ladies striker, Milot Pokuaa.
The youngster had an imperious start to the season and was the latest winner of the Women’s League Player of the Month award.
Milot, one of the stars of Ghana’s 2018 female unde-17 team was firing from all angles until coronavirus forced the league into an indefinite suspension.
On a grass-less pitch in Dansoman, Milot and her colleague Nana Yaa Mingle have arranged their cones and with two balls and are about to do what they have been doing since the lockdown was lifted.
Like her ‘senior’ Patricia Mantey, the past few weeks have been difficult for Milot. No football, lockdown and training without that the guidance of a coach, Milot admits the difficulty but says it is important she stays fit.
“It’s not easy because everybody is at home doing his or her own thing because of the coronavirus. I have been doing my personal training every morning and evening and rest on Saturdays and Sundays because as a footballer you don’t have to rest because there’s no football. I always train to keep fit.
The three players speak on the continuation or cancellation of the league and they all agree football must return only when it is safe for everyone.
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