Far away from family in Italy, India's women's boxing coach committed to Olympic quest

Despite being unable to travel home to see his family in Italy, Raffaele Bergamasco remains fully committed to his duties as India's women's boxing coach.

Raffaele Bergamasco, the foreign coach for Indian women boxers, at his room in Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi.   -  Special Arrangement

Despite being caught between a rock and a hard place, Raffaele Bergamasco has not lost hope. Even as Bergamasco, the foreign coach for Indian women boxers, is leading a solitary life on the campus of the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi, his heart is with his ailing wife and daughters in Italy.

With the coronavirus outbreak hitting Italy hard and spreading dangerously in India, Bergamasco has no choice but to wait patiently for the situation to improve. The Italian spoke to Sportstar about his new routine training the boxers virtually and the effects of the pandemic in his homeland.

Question: How was your self-isolation after return from Jordan? Where are you now?

Answer: It was difficult and strange moment when I first heard about it as I'm not used to stay indoors for days, but when I saw the news and followed the situation globally, I understood its seriousness and my responsibility of staying in self-quarantine. I followed all the instructions and underwent self-quarantine period as instructed by the authorities upon my return. After that I have been following the lockdown. At present I am staying in my room Indira Gandhi Stadium and disliking the self distancing.

Safety of your family members in Italy must be a concern. Is everything okay in your family?

Well, everybody is concerned about their family members especially when they are away and more worried when situations like this arise. My family is fine as they live far away from the areas of major outbreak in Italy. Fortunately, today we have this social media and video call facility which makes things easier in difficult times like this. I talk to them often and we also have family video chats these days.

There are some online reports that your wife is unwell. What happened to her and how concerned are you?

Yes. Unfortunately, she is unwell and has been on therapy since last two years. I am more concerned for her well being as it's important to be there beside your loved ones in difficult times like this but the situations are not in our hand and we have to accept them and find ways to deal with it.  I try to talk to her often over phone and my daughters are there with her and they keep me updated on her situation. I had promised my wife that I will be there with her every month, even for short time, a day or two, so that she will feel comfortable during the therapy but these are unprecedented times and she understands this. She is a brave lady.

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Are you in touch with the Indian women boxers? What's your advice to them during lockdown?

Of course, I am connected to all the boxers and my team through video call conference on a daily basis. I provide them programme and they are supposed to train at home in spite of the difficulties and lack of training facilities. I call them directly on video and point out their mistakes, if any. The aim is to keep them fit when they are at home so that once we resume we can take things further for our Olympic preparation. I am also in touch with all the coaches and support staff and we discuss the status and progress of boxers through video conferencing.

Are you making any requests to the Government of India to let you back (as a special case)?

I would like to travel back home and spend some time with my family as and when the situation betters and travel restrictions are relaxed. However, my commitment is towards Indian boxing and the boxers and till the time there is no clarity on status of travel I would like to stay put here. Because as per the current government guidelines if I return back to Rome, my visa will stand cancelled, which is not something that will help situations. With Olympics postponement there is time and I hope I can take a small time off to visit my family once travel bans are relaxed. 

Considering the crisis, will it be difficult for you to continue with your current job?

No. It is normal that every disastrous situation is followed by its consequences on all job profiles and sport is no exception. But I am quite happy with my time and work here in India and with the Olympics postponement we have enough time to train and prepare ourselves for the final show. So, such assumptions are baseless, we are all in this together globally and should pray for (minimum) loss and fight that our doctors are putting into saving lives. 

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