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Monday, November 23, 2020

Sunil Chhetri: ‘I would like to play in a stadium full of supporters’

"Football is a contact sport. So, on the pitch, it isn’t possible to maintain distance like you can in an office job. However, once off it, we wear our masks all the time, space ourselves out at team meals and meetings."

Written by Amitava Chakraborty | Updated: November 22, 2020 8:54:31 am
Sunil Chhetri (Illustration: Suvajit Dey)

On Sunday, Bengaluru FC plays its inaugural match of the Indian Super League, which kicked off on November 20 in Goa. Through the lockdown months, club captain Sunil Chhetri, 36 — also captain of the national football team and India’s all-time-highest goal scorer — says he has has been keeping up with training.

What precautions are you taking?

I am currently in a bio-secure bubble with my club, Bengaluru FC, in Goa for the football season. Every precaution that one can imagine is being taken. We get tested regularly and have zero contact with anyone from outside the bubble that we have created. We wear masks at all times, and are doing all the small and big things right.

Have you got yourself tested for Covid-19?

Yes, we get tested every three or four days. It might seem rather regular, but that is the level of precaution that is being taken.

Have you had to isolate yourself?

Yes, through the lockdown, and the pre-season. My wife and I have been isolating and taking every possible precaution.

What kind of mask do you use?

Nothing in particular. Just a regular mask.

While interacting with people at work, how do you ensure your safety?

There is a long list of safety protocols that we follow. Football is a contact sport. So, on the pitch, it isn’t possible to maintain distance like you can in an office job. However, once off it, we wear our masks all the time, space ourselves out at team meals and meetings, and avoid being together in large numbers in small spaces.

What precautions do you take while travelling?

I haven’t really travelled anywhere since the lockdown was announced. I made trips to Bellary and then Goa in the team bus. We usually travel in one bus. But this time, we chose to travel in two so that we can maintain social distance when seated.

How much time do you spend in front of a screen?

I don’t have a number for that. But it’s rather minimal. I don’t spend too much time on my phone, laptop or television. However, I do occasionally watch documentaries and shows on streaming platforms.

How do you keep your mind off the pandemic?

Training and resting takes up most of my time. I like my fair share of board games. I have also been catching up on a lot of reading too.

What is the first thing you want to do when the pandemic is past?

I would like to play in a stadium full of supporters in Bengaluru or with the national team — whichever comes first.

Since the un-lockdown, what have you been doing?

We were moving closer to the season. I was spending most of the time training hard and resting as much as I could. Football and fitness aside, I have been playing a lot of Ludo.

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