Host Intro: During a time of a global pandemic, seemingly one of the things that seems nonessential in the bigger is when the next sporting event will happen. However, for some it is important. It’s an escape, a passion, or a livelihood. Reporter Alin Basuljevic spoke with a soccer player who plays for a USL team, a second league that has been hiatus until recently.
AMBI1: Coach speaking to a soccer team about the intensity of the practice.
TRACK: It’s a hot day on the practice field for Arun Basuljevic, a professional soccer player with the Oklahoma City Energy. He’s just finished a training session with his team—something he’s glad to be able to do in person again..
ACT: We went from training everyday to only being able to hold Zoom workout sessions and our own workouts in public spaces. We did that for about 3 months without any real idea of when we would be able to return to our normal workplace.
TRACK: But even after they returned, they had to train very differently.
ACT: we were only able to train individually in sections on the field. That continued for a couple of weeks before we advanced to small group training. After a couple weeks of tedious small group training, we have been able to return to full training. We do not use the facility in the same way that we did in the past due to restrictions but it is a little bit closer to normal than when this all went down at first.
TRACK: The logistics of making sure everyone on the team is socially distancing and staying safe are complicated, especially for players with families.
ACT: There are some guys on the team who are single and living in Oklahoma by themselves. However, there are plenty of individuals with wives, children, and newborns. This makes it a bit more tricky because everyone needs to be mindful of what they do to ensure that they are not putting their teammates at risk.
TRACK: These precautions also make themselves known in their day-to-day, from the locker room to high-pressure game situations.
ACT: Gameday looks completely different. We are not able to congregate in the locker room for long periods of time. If we are in a space together, as a team, we have to have masks on. It feels weird but we are starting to get a bit more used to it. Also, the league has sanctioned that there are no flights for any team that is traveling less than 500 miles. They do this to minimize exposure. Therefore, long bus rides and travel affects preparation as that is something a lot of us are not used to.
TRACK: For an outgoing athlete, his downtime has been a little different than he’s used to.
ACT: We all have to be more mindful of what we do. We are in our own “bubble.” We cannot go to public places. We are encouraged to eat at home and to not be indoors with a lot of people.
TRACK: Looking ahead, he’s hopeful that it will all have been worth it.
ACT: I will never consider this to be the norm. But I have adapted well and I think my team has as well. This is our job and we must do what we can to uphold our end of the bargain. It is definitely a challenging year but there are no excuses. When we get through this, we will be thankful for the sacrifices that we made.
TRACK: In the meantime, he’s preparing for his next game coming up on August 15 against RGV Toros. For Baruch College, this is Alin Basuljevic.