It has been a strange couple of months for our Lion City Sailors custodian Hassan Sunny.
After all, since starting his professional career at Geylang United (now called Geylang International) in 2003, the 36-year-old has hardly ever been away from a football pitch for such a long period of time, injuries notwithstanding.
But, with the Covid-19 pandemic putting a temporary halt to all sporting activities in Singapore in March, Hassan has had no choice but to stay at home – away from the familiar surroundings of the Bishan Stadium – and wait for the virus to blow over, so that things can return to normal.
And, while Hassan fully understands the need to be cautious when it comes to the virus, he admits that it has not been easy for him to live without football these past two months.
“I don’t see anyone, or any athletes, having a good time at the moment,” said Hassan. “I watch the news closely every day, hoping for when it’s finally announced that we’re allowed to train again. Even if it’s in small groups of three or four, all of us just can’t wait to be back out on the pitch.
“Because football is in our blood, and we have been playing football since we were young, and this virus is like a huge block to stop us from doing what we love. In fact, it’s not just us professional athletes. I’m sure most people out there have ‘itchy legs’, and can’t wait to exercise or play sports as well.”
Nonetheless, Hassan acknowledges it is imperative that the SPL resumes only when it is safe to do so. And he expressed his confidence that the authorities in Singapore would make the right call at the right time.
“We as Singaporeans have to be thankful and we have to appreciate the things going on in Singapore,” Hassan mused. “Everything is about health. I’m sure when football resumes, all the necessary measures and checks will come first before football.
“I think it’s safe to say that us players don’t need to worry that much, because if any of us don’t pass the checks, we won’t be allowed to train or play with the team. So, if you talk about fears in terms of health, I’m sure everything will be detected early, and I think there’ll be no worries on that end.”
In the meantime, to keep himself focused on football, Hassan reveals that he has taken to watching his past matches, while also ensuring that he remains in tip-top shape physically.
The Sailors ‘Superman’ explained: “I’m sure all of us athletes and football players have been doing a lot of individual work at home or at our neighbourhood parks. On the football side, however, what I do is watch my matches from previous years…just to keep my brain on football and help me stay in the game.”
Hassan, however, will have to remain patient for a while longer – the return date for the Singapore Premier League (SPL) remains up in the air, even as the country slowly but surely moves towards the easing of restrictions.
But even after the SPL is given the all-clear to resume, the veteran Singapore international believes that there will be changes that clubs and players will have to adapt to.
“As much as people in Singapore would love to see football again, I’m sure things won’t go back to normal,” said Hassan. “Case in point – I recently watched the Bundesliga and the Korean league, and they don’t have fans watching them. I’m sure that affects those players, and it would be the same thing for us as well.”