As Wuhan lifts lockdown, hundreds of young soccer players from the city still quarantined in Spanish mountains

By Ji Yuqiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/8 21:28:40

Young soccer players with face masks of the club Photo: courtesy of the Wuhan Three Towns FC

As Central China's Wuhan lifted its 76-day lockdown on Wednesday, 104 young soccer players from the city are still trapped in Spain, which has been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The players from the Wuhan Three Towns FC, ranging from 13 to 18 years old, stay in Spain for 10 months every year for training. However, this year, they have been unable to head home since they arrived in Spain in September 2019 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All the players have been quarantined since March 13 at a base named El Collell about 150 kilometers from downtown Barcelona, Song Junshan, who is responsible for the teams' pandemic prevention work, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"We have not trained since March 11, when we were informed all leagues and training sessions had been suspended," Song said. 

To ensure the players' safety, the club moved them to the quiet and distant base to avoid the virus.

Even though they are not training, life at the base is still regular. Players get up at 7:30 am every day and must go to bed at 10:00 pm.

They must also complete the homework sent to their tablets each day by Spanish administrators by 1:00 pm. Although they cannot go to play soccer, they take indoor physical training classes each day.

All 104 players eat in teams, at different times and at different restaurants to avoid cross-contact between players.

Song said the spirits of the players are stable. To help them pass away their time in quarantine, players are allowed to walk around the base under the supervision of coaches and they are allowed to have some indoor entertainment activities such as playing chess and table tennis.

Song noted that daily necessities and medical supplies are still adequate. 

"At present, the public areas in the base are disinfected and aired out twice a day. All players, staff and base support staff get a mask a day and each room is equipped with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Adequate supplies of masks, protective clothing and goggles as well as gloves, disinfectant and other protective items have been stocked," he explained.

Wuhan, the former epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, lifted its quarantine on Wednesday after a 76-day lockdown, but the team has not received definite notice about when they can return to China.

Song said they have been in touch with Chinese authorities including the Wuhan municipal government and the Chinese Embassy in Spain to report their present situation, and maintain daily contact with local government and hospitals.

Although the pandemic has been ravaging Spain, the club is confident that they will be able to respond to any emergencies. 

There were 141,942 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spain as of Wednesday, and 14,045 deaths.

Behind these 104 young players are 104 Chinese families in Wuhan. Their relatives are worried about the safety of these teenagers, according to a report by Chinese news outlet The Paper.

"We experienced the outbreak in Wuhan, so it was very distressing to see what is going on in Spain. My mind is only concerned about my child now, but it's no use worrying," the mother of one of the players told The Paper. These parents are hoping that the pandemic overseas can be brought under control as soon as possible. If so, their children can come back home earlier.

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