'We are nearing our peak fitness'

I am looking forward to a good stint with the Blasters, says Rafi

Mohammed Rafi.   -  S. GOPAKUMAR

Last season I played for Atletico de Kolkata and our pre-season camp was in Spain. We spent around 45 days in Spain and played five practice matches. By the time we came back, all of us had reached our peak fitness. I personally found it easier to train in the cool climate of Spain. But the sudden change in climate at home in Kolkata put a lot of us in great difficulty.

It was very hot in Kolkata at that time of the year, and many of us, including me, struggled initially. We found it difficult to breathe, but gradually, I overcame my difficulty and tried to put in my best effort.

After the I-League, I had about two months break. I was, basically, resting at home, doing only light warm-ups in the evening. I knew I had to work hard to reach peak fitness and was ready for it when I joined Kerala Blasters’ pre-season camp in Thiruvananthapuram. The trainer, Ciaran Deely, gradually increased our load. We trained twice a day. Deely made us do a lot of sprints and we worked with the ball a lot, and every second day we were in the gym, building our strength. Deely also ensured that we got enough time to recover. We had ice baths and did swimming for recovery.

The humid climate was a bit of concern for foreign players. But I think they have got used to the conditions now. We are nearing our peak fitness. We played well in the practice matches. Personally, I am looking forward to a good stint with the Blasters.

(As told to M. R. Praveen Chandran)