WE ARE all having to adapt to the new normal because of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, some people have found themselves out of work, many of us have become teachers by homeschooling our children and for those still fortunate to be able to work, we have had to find new ways of carrying out our jobs from home or remotely.
In the UK, elite sport has been allowed to carry on and former Cork City player Sean McLoughlin is thankful that he still gets to go into work every day even though it is much different to when he first arrived at Hull City.
“These are difficult times and it’s not nice seeing people losing their jobs because of coronavirus,” McLoughlin said.
“I’m lucky because I get to go training and get to leave the house. It’s strange when I speak to people back home because they are talking to me about not leaving the house and doing nothing all day, which is very different to my situation.
“I suppose by continuing to go training, it distracts me from the pandemic. Christmas was different this year. I suppose it’s always the toughest time of the year for players but this year especially.
Lads couldn’t see their families and some of them spent Christmas self-isolating.
“I’m lucky that my girlfriend moved over when I returned to Hull from my loan at St Mirren, so we got to spend Christmas together.
“Obviously, football is a lot different now to how it used to be and will continue to change.
“The Players’ Football Association are starting to pay for coronavirus tests to be conducted twice a week at clubs whereas in the past, we would be sent a questionnaire to fill out and have our temperatures checked.
“Travelling to games, especially when we have to stay in hotels the night before, has completely changed.
“We travel in two separate buses wearing our masks and it’s not a case of anymore when we arrive to the hotel that we can have a walk around and socialise together. Normally, there would be set mealtimes and all of the players would eat together but that isn’t the case anymore.
“We are texted by someone from the management staff and told a specific time to go and get our food.
“It would be a case of getting the text saying defenders to collect their food at 6pm and then midfielders would be quarter past and attackers at half-past.
“The only interaction I would have with the other players in the hotel is that five minutes the defenders spend down in the room to get their food and we must bring it up to our rooms to eat it.
“Although there has been no official sitdown and being told by the club what we can and can’t do, players are very aware of what they should do.
“There hasn’t been an incident here where players are breaking rules compared to some other clubs and I’m sure if there was the management would treat it very seriously.”
With the surge in the number of cases and having seen teammates contract the virus, McLoughlin still feels secure enough to continue playing as players have been assured by professionals that they are still safe training and playing games.
“We did have some cases in the team around Christmas time. We played a game against Portsmouth and they reported some positive cases, and a few days later one of the lads on our team was feeling unwell and was returned a positive test.
“His close contacts on the team had to self-isolate and some returned positive results as well. Most of the lads on the team didn’t have to isolate because they weren’t considered to be close contacts.
“We have been told by doctors that there is 20 times less chance of contacting Covid-19 outdoors training and playing in games than in normal situations.
“Although we train and play for over 90 minutes, we have been told that there isn’t enough contact between players on a pitch to be considered close contacts but it would be different if we were substitutes in the game sitting near each other outdoors, then we would be close contacts.
“The doctors can’t identify where the lads contracted the virus from. They could easily have picked it up going to the shops rather than off an opponent in a match.”
Having not featured recently for Hull, McLoughlin said that it has been difficult watching the games from the sideline but is using the experience as a motivational tool.
I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation.
“It’s a new position I find myself in because I was playing at City, went on-loan to St Mirren after signing for Hull and played and felt this was a big season for me but I haven’t played as much as I’d have liked to.
“I can’t really complain about not being in the team because we are winning games and it’s not often a manager will change a defence when making changes to a team.
“He [Grant McCann] has assured me that I’m part of his plans so when I get my chance this experience has made me determined to stay in the team because I know what it is like to be out of the team and I’d much rather be playing games.”