A weekend without football – Angers defender Romain Thomas documents his COVID-19 induced free time: “I mowed the lawn.”

Speaking in an interview with France Football, 31-year-old Angers central defender Romain Thomas documented the surprise weekend that he endured, with the LFP deciding on Friday to suspend all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 action until further notice owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“These measures are essential. Health is the most important thing, for football, we will figure that out afterwards. The big news item is childbirth.”

Thomas is already father to a girl called Mila, who will be 4 on 10th May, but him and his wife Sabrina are expecting their second child at the end of this month.

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“At first, we took it a little lightly, but for the past ten days, the doc (Anthony Tondut) had been telling us to be careful. At the Baumette training centre, there is hand sanitiser everywhere. When I saw that all the leagues and all sports started to stop almost everywhere, I said to myself that it was getting serious. Friday afternoon, when the staff announced the suspension of 1st team training, the doc warned us that just because we are top athletes does not mean that we will have any special treatment (from the healthcare system) if we get the coronavirus. In Angers, I saw that there were people aged 25-30 who were in intensive care, although they did not necessarily show signs of weakness at the start. We must be very vigilant.”

“The doc reminded us of the recommendations (washing hands regularly, avoiding shaking hands or embracing each other…) and recommended that we avoid places where there are people, like public transport, cinemas, theatres… He also told us to take our temperature if, one morning, we felt feverish or tired. But he also insisted on staying positive and that there was no reason to blacken everything, to panic and to remain cloistered at home, shutters closed. We will avoid large shopping centers and confined spaces. We will go more outdoors: go for a bike ride, go to the outdoor play areas. You have to go on living, maybe being a little more careful.”

“The decision to suspend full 1st team training sessions is a smart decision even if it changes our daily lives. The training centre is only open to injured players, who who have a strict time slot to go in one by one. All those not injured are forbidden to go there, even for the running exercises that the fitness coach Benoît Pickeu asks us to do, in the individualised programs that he sent us by email. Tuesday and Friday, we will just pick up our GPS trackers in the morning and bring them back in the evening so that the staff can see the intensity of our work. Everyone will do the work at home.”

“On Friday, after training was cancelled, I went home. With Vincent Manceau and Pierrick Capelle, we said to each other: “Look, it’s nice outside, now is the moment to do some mowing.” So I mowed the lawn in the garden, it allowed me to think about something else. You have to find things to do. In the evening, I had a look at the latest news to remain update and afterwards, we watched TV as a family, a little bit of Koh-Lanta before going to bed. We laughed, we said to each other it was a strange way to prepare before a match (Angers were due to play Amiens on Saturday night).”

“I am struggling with having nothing to do. This Sunday, with Pierrick Capelle, we reserved a small tennis court to hit the ball for an hour. For food, we must be careful and avoid stockpiling. This interruption of the league is reminiscent of the summer break but we are not on vacation. We must be ready for Ligue 1 to resume. I did not purchase considerable food reserves. I saw that many French people were rushing into the stores. For now, we have what we need in our cupboards. We’ll go shopping when we need to, I’m not in too much of a panic about it. Compared to a normal shop, I merely added some hydroalcoholic gel to the shopping trolley.”

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