It's difficult for athletes to stay away from their sport for a long time. Footballers are no different. However, the COVID-19 pandemic gave no choice to humans around the world. Indian footballer Robin Singh went in search of regular football from Hyderabad FC to Real Kashmir earlier this year but the season couldn't finish because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Initially, it was difficult to come to terms with the nationwide lockdown for Robin, who was looking to chart his way back into the national team before the sport came to a grinding halt, but he realised that the world was grappling with a much bigger problem. This new perspective helped him to cope with the situation.
"Yes, it affected me. But I realised life is larger than a handful of players or the fraternity of sport. This has affected the world and our priority was to fight this together," Robin told Firstpost, "It came during the I-League season when I was still playing games and I wanted to play football. I went to Kashmir to play more matches. I love this sport too much to ever take a holiday or a break. When I did come back home, I was happy to be here. Now there's a little ray of sunshine as I reside in the green zone and slowly things are opening up."
"Mentally, the scenario was not ideal because of all the restrictions but as an athlete, you got to adapt. As an athlete, I need to focus on what I can do at home when it comes to strength-based activities and high-intensity training drills. It was about doing the simple things right so once the sport resumes, you can hit the ground running," Robin spoke about how maintaining fitness gave him the motivation to stay upbeat and optimistic about the future.
Just when Robin was starting to enjoy his stint with Real Kashmir, pandemic struck and I-League season came to a halt. Restrictions were imposed on movements and he was briefly stuck in the state with players confining to their hotel rooms. There was a lot of uncertainty over the resumption of the league and being confined to four walls made the situation more challenging.
"No matter what you do, no matter which city you are in, being confined to four walls is hard. Especially for an athlete. We love playing football. I love training. We love training for the fact that we really enjoy each other's company. We enjoy competing and all of a sudden, it's taken away. But everyone is safe now which is great."
What has been Robin's biggest learning from this period? "Appreciating where you are at the moment. Because sometimes, life moves at such a pace that you don't know where you are at. Appreciating little things like just being home, spending time with family. Not taking anything away from football but these are few things we do miss. These are the things athletes sacrifice all the time. Just doing simple things like house chores. It made me appreciate the little things I have," Robin said.
Talking about goals and ambitions, Robin is desperate to make a comeback into the national side. It's a burning desire that pushes him. This is the reason why he wants to play as many matches as possible and perform to impress head coach Igor Stimac.
"One thing that I really want to do is to play for the national team again. This is one of the reasons why I haven't taken a break. I sat down and thought 'maybe I'm not doing something'. That made me push even more. That made me work on my fitness. Be the best professional on and off the pitch. Making sure that I bring 110 percent at training everyday.
"I'm hungry to play for my country. I don't know if it's right to say it but I wasn't done. Igor Stimac mentioned that he needs a physical striker and it pushes me even more. He says he needs a big No 9 and I'm standing at the back with my hands up so that he can see me," Robin said, with palpable excitement in his tone. "I had the pleasure to meet him as well when the team was in Goa. I expressed my hunger to play for the national team. I know that playing for the country is one of the proudest moments that an athlete can have. I have done it for over five years and I want to do it more."
Robin spoke about his professional goals, but on a personal front, the soon-to-be father is relishing at the prospect of becoming a proud parent.
"In my personal life, the opportunity has now come to be a father. I'm looking forward to that. To being a proud father and making sure my child and family are also proud of me just like my fans. It gives me goosebumps to think that at some point, 'You'll have your child in the stands supporting you'. It's an amazing feeling," Robin said before signing off.