Sun, 17 Oct 2021

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], October 9 (ANI): Last season, the I-League Qualifiers paved the way for sporting events to be held in India during a pandemic by introducing an entirely new concept -- the bio-bubble. While the COVID-19 pandemic persists in India and around the world, the HILQ 2021 edition is back with a bigger bio bubble.

The I-League Qualifiers caravan has now moved from the City of Joy to the Garden City, the number of teams have almost doubled from five last season, to nine, and they are all being housed in two different hotels across the city, instead of one, with tests being conducted every five days for all members of every team, the inside-bubble and outside-bubble LOC staff, and also the hotel staff who are servicing the inside bubble floors.

However, after security measures around the bubble-demarcated areas remain as tight as they were last year. Movement between the floors are still restricted, and the teams can only move from their respective floor at their allotted schedule for meals, training, or for a team meeting. The stadiums, training facilities, and team buses are constantly being sanitised before the arrival of any teams. Every possible measures are taken to ensure the safety of the players and those around them.

"The bio-bubble is a new experience for me, but it is one that I have adjusted to pretty quickly," said Madan Maharaj FC captain and mentor Mehtab Hossain. "I always used to stay in my room apart from training, even back in my younger days, so it's not that much of a problem for me."While everything is provided for inside the bubble, the situation of being locked inside does create some kind of psychological pressure for the players.

FC Bengaluru United's Sanju Pradhan spoke about the pressure that a player faces while living inside a bio-bubble. "It is very difficult to play from inside the bio bubble. Staying inside a room for weeks and only going out to play, it increases pressure on players who are already under pressure to perform. It is difficult for any athlete.""But I think footballers are mentally strong, generally, which is why we are able to withstand the pressure," he added.

Ryntih SC's Chesterpoul Lyngdoh has taken it one step further, by using the extra time inside his room to look after his mental health.

"Yes, it's difficult to stay at one place and lead a very regimented life. You can't go out for a stroll or anything. But I have found that a bit of yoga and meditation always help calm the mind down. I have been practicing this from last season when I was playing for Real Kashmir, and this is something that has helped me remain focused," said Chesterpoul. (ANI)

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