Speaking to New Era Sport from her base in coronavirus-hit Spain, Brave Gladiators poster-girl Zenatha Coleman yesterday narrated how the virus has wreck havoc in that country’s football leagues and almost all public systems, sending thousands into total lockdown in fear of further infections.
In Spain, there have been over 11,178 confirmed cases of coronavirus and as of Wednesday, about 491 people were known to have died from the disease. Valencia, the first Spanish football club to report coronavirus infections, said this week that 35% of players and staff members of their senior men’s team have tested positive for the virus.
The club said the virus spread among the squad following last month’s trip to Milan for the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Atalanta, an area confirmed as ‘high risk’ by the Italian authorities’ days afterwards.
Coleman, who plies her trade for Valencia’s senior women side Valencia CF Femenino, said luckily for them the virus only infected players in the men’s senior side due to their Italy trip, but no case of the Covid-19 has been reported in the ladies side at the moment.
“Just some days ago, we were told that 35% of the male players in the Valencia squad tested positive to the coronavirus and that we [women side] should send out cheering messages in their support because we are one club at the end of the day. The first week of this month, one could see the panic among players and telling ourselves that maybe we need to stop training before one of us gets infected as we were just joking around. Fortunately, it was not long until the Spanish FA took a decision to suspend all football activities in Spain,” said Coleman, a talismanic figure of Namibia’s senior women’s team, the Brave Gladiators.
The 26-year old forward, who had stints with Gintra Universitetas in the Lithuanian premiership and Zaragoza CFF in the Spanish topflight, said her club has since taken strict preventative and responsive measures against Covid-19, which includes suspending all training sessions and instructing players to strictly remain indoors.
“We are under strict rules to stay indoors and no one is allowed to go out. The club provided us with a workout programme that we have to follow in order to keep fit and for the cardio. Those that are caught going outside will be fined by the club, and that was made clear to us. It’s a very difficult situation but we have to listen to our professional doctors and follow the instructions. In our female team, no one has complained of not feeling well so I hope it remains like that. I’m very calm and don’t really follow what people say on social media because that leads people going into panic mode,” she further shared.
Spain, which is one of the worst affected countries in Europe, declared a 15-day state of emergency and have since shut down its borders.