SPL clubs use video conferencing app to conduct training
In light of safe-distancing measures, some teams use video conferencing tool to conduct training virtually
Almost all sporting activities in Singapore may have ground to a halt due to Covid-19 measures, but several Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs have found a way to conduct team training sessions, thanks to technology.
Since the SPL suspension was announced on March 24, in the light of safe-distancing measures, clubs have tried various methods, including video conferencing application Zoom, to conduct training.
Hougang United coach Clement Teo, who uses Zoom extensively, acknowledged the importance of his charges staying in shape and being prepared to return to action, as their livelihoods are dependent on it.
"My coaching team and I were discussing various training plans once we knew about the suspension," the 53-year-old Teo told The New Paper.
"We have been thinking out of the box to devise different plans to ensure our players' health and safety, and training sessions are not compromised."
Borne out of those meetings, was the idea of "communal" training sessions via Zoom, in addition to the individual training programmes that each player has been given.
Players have also been issued with balls, cones, heart-rate monitors and other equipment, so that they can execute both their individual and online training sessions without a hitch.
They can be at home or at a nearby park for the 40-minute Zoom sessions, which help to break the monotony of individual training.
"Given all the restrictions in place (in relation to the Covid-19 situation), with most people at home most of the time, training alone can be very tedious," Teo added.
"So, by working out together five to six times a week, it is something different and fun. There are jokers in the team, cracking others up while training, so it keeps morale up.
"It also motivates the players, when they see one another working hard rather than someone doing on his own."
These virtual sessions, which kicked off last Friday and are designed to focus on cardio, strength and conditioning, and ball work, have been well received by the Hougang players.
Calling it a great initiative, midfielder M. Anumanthan said: "Hougang were finding solutions for us to train from the very first time we heard about the suspension...
"Also, the training sessions on Zoom have been surprisingly really tough... I have never worked as hard as I did on Zoom with the boys than on my own!"
Hougang's top scorer Stipe Plazibat, who has bagged nine goals in six games, added: "As professionals, we always need to stay in shape.
"Zoom is a good way to do that, given the current circumstances, and it is also a good way to keep team spirit high."
Also embracing Zoom as part of their training regimen are Balestier Khalsa.
The Tigers have incorporated three 40-minute online sessions in their weekly schedule, complementing individualised programmes that run from Monday to Saturday.
"In more than 40 years as a player and coach, I've never experienced such a scenario," coach Marko Kraljevic, 54, said of their new training method.
"But, it has been positive. We have had no issues and training alone can be boring. With Zoom, there have been interactions among players, you can see them joking and smiling, and that is good for team spirit."
League leaders Tampines Rovers also use Zoom, albeit once a week, to boost team camaraderie. But that's enough to serve their objectives, said coach Gavin Lee.
"Yeah, we have an hour-long circuit training together to build team engagement," the 29-year-old said.
"The rest are individual work, which is down to the methodology, and our methodology is based on what we do together as a team on the pitch.
"Yes, we work to maintain fitness. But, on the football side, we send out clips every day, reminding our players of what we do and why we do the different parts of our game... and engage their minds about our football model."
Veteran Stags defender Daniel Bennett, 42, added: "Gavin has given us a lot of materials to supplement our own training programmes, including clips of our games that highlight our philosophy, objectives and the good things that we want to continue doing.
"That said, Zoom does help in forging team spirit as we can see and connect with one another.
"There is the feeling that we are part of a group - and that is important, as we look to achieve our goals on the pitch together."