The coronavirus pandemic has brought the sporting juggernaut to a halt. With that said, athletes are eager to get back on the field and are in constant touch with their fitness coaches online to stay in shape during the government imposed lockdown.
Sarthak Golui, an integral part of Mumbai City Football Club's defence in the Indian Super League (ISL), spoke about the measures he is taking to stay fit and return to the field once the normal services resume, his career as a right-back, differences between I-League and ISL, and Mumbai City FC's run in the recently concluded ISL season of 2019-20.
Golui, 22, following his father's footsteps, began his football career as a centre-back (CB) but eventually settled into the right-back (RB) position under former Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen at the West Bengal club.
Although Golui prefers playing as a CB and has also played as a centre-defensive midfielder, playing as an RB, he likes to stay in the mix on the field. With defence being his first concern, Golui also finds himself in the attacking third to deliver crucial crosses and help his team in scoring goals.
In 2017, Golui left I-League side Mohun Bagan to join ISL's Pune City FC (now dissolved) on loan. And two years later in 2019, he joined Mumbai City FC.
Speaking with The Free Press Journal about the differences in the two football leagues in India, Golui said: "When I played in I-League, there were many world-class players and it was very tough. But now with ISL having more European coaches and managers, it gives players a chance to enhance skills under more experienced management and thus help the level of Indian football go a notch up.
"I-League, on the other hand, has for years helped the sport grow from the grassroots. My first coach Sanjoy Sen was a huge helping factor when I started out.
"For me, I always want to gain more knowledge wherever I play, be it from the coaches or the players."
Golui also revealed how his current club is helping the entire squad with fitness during the lockdown.
"All the players are in constant touch with the fitness coaches and physiotherapists of Mumbai City FC through online platforms. Every week, I check in with them and clear any queries from my end," Golui told the FPJ.
"The coaches have sent a full-fledged workout routine which all the players have to follow."
Amid the lockdown, Golui watches clips of his football matches from the past in order to improve his current style of play.
"I think watching old football videos of my games help me in improving my current style of play and avoid making the same mistakes I have made in the past.
"I also watch videos of other good players and matches to know better and improve individually."
Once the lockdown ends and all the footballers return to the field, some may struggle due to lack of football in these months. With a hefty time away from the game, players might pick-up injuries more often.
Speaking on the same, Golui said: "While we are all away from football, we also think of making our comebacks. We should take care of ourselves, our bodies and maintain a proper diet which will surely help us later on."
Mumbai City FC's run in the 2019-2020 ISL season ended early as they were one spot shy from the play-offs after losing to Chennaiyin FC in their final league match.
Golui, speaking on the team's performance in that season, said: "We had a great team and we started very well. But in some matches, we did not get the required results even after everyone gave their 200 per cent."
"Many crucial players were not able to play due to injury,” Golui added, who also got injured in the midway during the season, hurting Mumbai’s already fragile backline.
“One of our matches also ended in a draw which we were supposed to win and that proved extremely costly for us in the end. But as a team, we performed very well in the league and for me, it was the best season in the ISL so far."
However, in the coming seasons, Golui aims to get better every season and learn as much as he can while also getting more play time.
Golui, who has also played for the Indian national team, hopes to continue playing for the side as a regular starter.
The 22-year-old is an admirer of Spanish manager Pep Guardiola and his current club Manchester City. But as a Manchester United fan, Golui would love to play for The Red Devils one day.
While Liverpool's Trent-Alexander Arnold is Golui's favourite right-back in current football, John Terry, Nemanja Vidic and Virgil van Dijk are his favourite centre-backs of all time.