Jose Brasa on life under lockdown in Spain and Belgium

Former India coach Jose Brasa, a Spaniard currently restricted to his residence in Belgium where he has been coaching, gave an overview of the situation in both countries.

Former India coach Jose Brasa, who visited his family in Spain from March 8-12, has been confined to his apartment in Belgium since then with Spain announcing lockdown on March 13.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Jose Brasa might have been India’s hockey coach almost a decade ago but he continues to be one of the most popular ones with the players. The Spaniard, currently restricted to his residence in Belgium where he has been coaching, gave an overview of the situation in both countries – specially Spain, which has emerged as the new hotspot for COVID-19.

What is the situation in Spain right now?

In Spain, it is a rather serious situation in those Autonomies where local governments have sold public hospitals to private health care, as is the case in Madrid. The Intensive Care Units in hospitals are saturated and they cannot attend to all the patients, the doctors have to do ‘war medicine’ and choose to save the strongest patients and let those who are very serious die.

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In Belgium, it is much less serious and the health system in Belgium is sufficient for now. I am training the Old Club of Liege in Belgium. I visited my family in Spain from March 8-12 and have been confined to my apartment here since then with Spain announcing lockdown on March 13.

Are you aware of any hockey player or any other famous sportsperson who may have been affected by the virus?

I don’t know of any active hockey player today who is seriously affected. Some have had slight symptoms without having to be hospitalised. Among ex-sportsmen, many in their 70s and 80s have died. People over 80 are at risk, and more so if they are male. Former football club presidents have also died of coronavirus but all of them were very old, over 70 years.

Are you aware of any player in any sport who may be involved in supportive activities to fight the pandemic?

Yes, in hockey there are many current and former players who are doctors, nurses or physical therapists working in hospitals. The ones in Madrid are having the worst time but in every city they have a lot of work to do.

How do you keep yourself busy?

I keep busy watching and analysing videos of our games this season. I also watch games from last European Cup on TV and study. All leagues are suspended in both Belgium and Spain right now.

 

The difference is that in Belgium they have been terminated and the champions and promotions have been decided according to the current rankings. On April 2, the Belgian Hockey Federation declared that the National League was over and promotions and relegations were decided by classifications obtained by teams in the first round. In football, they decided to take in consideration all matches played till now. This decision has been taken in almost all sports to avoid possible unnecessary contagion when the confinement is over.

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In Spain, the situation is totally opposite. Competitions are temporarily suspended. Football has not terminated the leagues and it seems they want to resume, if not with spectators then behind closed doors.

Are you in touch with your players and club? How do the players stay safe, busy and fit?

Yes, all players, coaching staff and I are in contact through social networks, with groups where we send messages to each other. We also talk to each other on the phone and by video conference.

To be safe, the players are kept confined to their homes, and they go out to train and run, one at a time, complying with government rules. They also receive exercises to perform coordination, strength, abdominal and core training sessions at their homes.

“All leagues are suspended in both Belgium and Spain right now. The difference is that in Belgium they have been terminated and the champions and promotions have been decided. In Spain, the situation is totally opposite. Competitions are temporarily suspended.”

Are any of your players directly or indirectly affected?

Only one player from my team has been infected by the virus but he is young and strong, his symptoms have been mild and he’s cured now. Both him and his girlfriend have had to stay home in total quarantine during the illness and will be so for the next two weeks. Almost all of us have probably been in contact with the coronavirus because if this player was infected and the symptoms start two weeks after the infection, during those two weeks we all were with him, touched him, hugged him and the rest of us have been lucky to not develop the disease.

How do you manage to stay safe? Is free movement of people allowed or are there restrictions?

The most important thing to stay safe is ‘Stay home’. In Spain the restriction is total, you cannot leave your home, except for workers in engaged in maintenance essential services including hospitals, pharmacies and food supermarkets. In Belgium the situation is not so serious. All people in activities that do not involve crowds of people can go to work, taking precautionary measures recommended by the government -- not to come within 2m of another, not to touch each other. Public places are closed but you can go out to train, individually, and each person has to keep a distance of 5m from others.

How do you see the global sporting scene over the next one year?

The important thing now is to save people’s lives and wait for a vaccine to be discovered. The authorities have done well to postpone competitions until 2021. This will give athletes time and facilities to train and to optimally prepare for major competitions including the Olympics.

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