The coaches of the clubs set to participate in the I-League Qualifier 2020 hailed the medical and safety parameters put in place by All India Football Federation for the tournament. The qualifiers will determine which team would take its place in the I-League 2020-21 season, along with the other clubs.
Bhowanipore FC head coach Sankarlal Chakraborty believes that the COVID safety regulations put in place by the AIFF will eventually help the players dish out good performances, while staying safe from the virus themselves.
“The COVID-19 safety regulations put into place by the AIFF will be essential in maintaining the safety of the players and those around them. Once we ensure that, we can all enjoy the good football played by them on the pitch,” Chakraborty said.
The I-League Qualifier 2020 is set to get underway on October 8 in Kolkata and Kalyani, with five teams – FC Bengaluru United, Bhowanipore FC, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Garhwal FC and ARA FC – facing off against each other, the fixtures for which, were announced earlier this week.
FC Bengaluru United head coach Richard Hood showed “complete confidence” in the safety regulations, stating that the teams can all move forward together “smoothly in a tightly managed process.”
“Having gone through the SOPs outlining the Safety regulations it gives us complete confidence and belief that the 20 odd days in Kolkata for the I-League Qualifiers will go through smoothly in a tightly managed process that has prioritised player safety through restrictions and monitoring,” said Hood.
“With all of this in place all we have to do is comply and take extra measures at the personal level to lock in on our focus on getting out there and fighting for promotion.”
ARA FC head coach Vivek Nagul believes that though it will be a testing time for all the sides, the regulations will protect those that are involved in the game, at the end of the day.
“It will be testing for all the teams, and we all have to follow the guidelines put in place by the Government and AIFF. But this is mainly to take good care of the players and staff, so this is a good opportunity for us,” said Nagul
Meanwhile Hood feels that adaptation to the “new normal”, which has seeped in from our daily lives into football is a crucial process for all teams.
“The new normal set in from day one in our homes and everyday life in terms of heading out only when necessary, wearing a mark, disinfecting all contact surfaces of our body and maintain social distance,” he averred.
“This new normal extends to our game in the way of no contact like handshakes, high-fives, regular testing and managing our spaces with high levels of hygiene and associated precautions,” he added.
“The adaptation process has been set in months ago and were further implemented in our camp in the past few weeks to fully prepare on and off the pitch for what is coming our way,” he continued.
“Once the kick-off whistle goes the 90 minutes that will follow would be the only space to enjoy the old normal minus the spectators and avoidable contact, it’s the best of what we expect and we are looking forward to every second of it.”
Most of the teams have already started to place their players in separate facilities. Bhowanipore FC boss Chakraborty believes that his players are already conditioned to playing in the environment of a bio-bubble.
“We have already been treading cautiously as the club had arranged for our players to stay in isolation. Since they have been in isolation for two weeks now, they have already been mentally conditioned for such an environment,” he stated.
“We have to evolve the way we do things as time progresses. Of course, the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about a lot of changes in the way we go about our daily lives,” continued Chakraborty.
“Football is a part of society, and what is happening around us is bound to reflect on the game too. It is for the betterment of society, and for the safety of everyone involved, that these measures have been put into place.”