Mainz are among the clubs to have returned to training under social distancing measures in Germany, with Liverpool’s Taiwo Awoniyi explaining its positive impact.
Football has been suspended across the majority of Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, but the Bundesliga is closer to resumption than many other leagues.
Clubs in the German top flight reported back for training last week but on a limited basis, with players required to maintain social distancing and sessions based around non-contact areas of the game.
Pictures emerged from Bayern Munich’s training ground to highlight how this is being put into place, and now Awoniyi has provided further context.
Awoniyi joined Jurgen Klopp‘s former club Mainz on a season-long loan last summer, and though he has made just six appearances for the 15th-placed side is still part of Achim Beierlorzer’s squad.
The Nigerian told Omasports that he “can’t believe” it has been possible to resume training on a non-contact basis, and that “it feels good because we all can feel the ball again.”
“The Germans have always been professional and the training has been more like passing drills,” he explained.
“We are keeping social distance, nobody is touching each other and everything is under strict conditions.
“The monitoring is strict, and those drills don’t need contact.
“It feels good because we all can feel the ball again—and everyone can be safe in the end, which is most important for us.
“Everyone has been indoors for a while and it’s same everywhere around the world. We have to follow the instructions we are given.
“At Mainz, the way everything is being conducted has shown how Germans are and how professional they are as a club.
“It was a good training session for everyone. I can’t believe we can play football without contact.”
The DFL have proposed that the Bundesliga returns in early May, with games played behind closed doors, and a successful returning to social-distanced training is a step in the right direction.
“We are happy about it but we will be more glad when everything comes back to normal, when the whole virus is gone and I pray everything returns to normal for everyone,” Awoniyi continued.
“Kudos to the medical staff. For us, we have to stay safe at home and on the pitch, but it feels good to touch the ball again.
“I hope everything will be back to normal for everyone in the end.”
The Bundesliga is set to serve as blueprint for other European leagues to follow, and though the Premier League is more likely to reconvene later, clubs in England are expected to take a similar approach.
Awoniyi’s comments highlight the positive effect it can have on the morale of players, which could be particularly key in the Premier League due to the ridiculous pressure they have been put under by the government.
To simply “touch the ball again” and be able to rejoin their team-mates—albeit under strict guidelines—could be a big development for people effectively relied upon as a vital source of entertainment during a turbulent time.