With a complete lockdown, it’s no news that outdoor sports and large scale sporting events took a backseat too.
“The lockdown had been the hardest time for sports. Athletes, coaches, players and the staff were more than just affected,” says Alok Singh, head coach at LDA Cricket Stadium, Lucknow. The consequences of the pandemic are more than just the financial, mainly the athletes found it extremely challenging to maintain their workout routines. Failing this, several athletes have complained about sore muscles and a tense body. “I experienced severe muscle cramps and regular soreness as I wasn’t able to practice football during the lockdown period,” says Priyank Tiwari, an Uttar Pradesh state-level football player. Unable to “We all used to do basic exercises to keep our bodies fit, however, we couldn’t follow the advanced ones”, mentions Singh.
With the stadiums and grounds reopening after taking sanitisation measures, the sports sector has finally got some relief. One major protocol being followed is ‘bio-secure bubbles’ i.e. completely isolating the staff and the players from the outside world, with regular monitoring of their health. Singh remarks that this is perhaps not the best idea, “Biosecure bubbles affect the mental health of the players and in turn affect their performances.” With strict isolation and heavy regulations imposed, the mental health of the players deteriorates. But, as normal precautions like masks and social distancing cannot be followed such bubbles are the only means to keep a check.
Another key aspect is the absence of a live audience which slackens the morale of the players. “It feels disheartening to see empty stands with no one cheering for us or celebrating when we score”, exclaims Tiwari. Online platforms may be a boon, but only for the viewers.
The aftermath of the pandemic for the sports industry still shows marring of its functioning. Especially, the sports at the local, regional and state level are failing to keep themselves afloat.
“Certain major changes like modulating the types and techniques of exercises for the players have to be incorporated so that in case of next lockdown, they don’t suffer.”, concludes Mr Singh. Certainly, sports is something we all love, but organizing it or preparing for it on any level becomes extremely challenging. A few reforms can eliminate certain challenges, but not completely put the sector out of risk during such times of pandemic.