Cavalry FC coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. called in to Sportsnet 960 in Calgary on Thursday, joining hosts Ryan Pinder and Pat Steinberg to divulge how he and his club are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
First and foremost, Wheeldon asserted, this crisis has put soccer into perspective a little for him.
“When stuff like this goes on it puts everything into reality. As much as we miss each other, what we do for a living, we’re also thankful that we get to do it for a living,” Wheeldon said.
Still, Cavalry’s coaches and players have jobs to do, of course. Wheeldon explained that they’ve kept in virtual communication with the players, with daily workout videos and tactical sessions coordinated through a WhatsApp group.
Having spent about two weeks on the training pitch in pre-season prior to shutting things down, Wheeldon revealed that the intensity among his squad had been high, with his players excited to try and continue their success from 2019.
“We’ve got an ethos at our club, and we’ve taken it as part of the military story to our name,” he stated. “It’s adapt and overcome, this is really a test for us, but it validates who we are under these circumstances.”
The Cavs coach explained that it’s been particularly important to stay engaged with the club’s newcomers for this year, including international players. For instance, he told Sportsnet 960 that Peruvian striker Jair Córdova arrived in Canada the day before international travel shut down, his first introduction to the country.
“He had to go into the mandatory 14-day isolation so the poor lad was picked up at the airport, put into a basement suite and he’s been there by himself,” Wheeldon explained. “We’ve been using creative ways to keep him engaged and welcome him to Calgary and to Canada, but you imagine for a player like that, who doesn’t speak a ton of English, that’s his first input.”
Ultimately, Wheeldon said that he’s confident his club — and the rest of the Calgary sporting scene — will emerge from this bizarre time strongly.
“Sports are the great unifier of everybody,” he said. “We’re confident that all of the sports in this city will bring everyone together because we’ll have missed each other that much. That love for the game, for each other, that connectiveness will be brought through.”
To listen to Wheeldon’s full appearance on Sportsnet 960, click here.