27 May 2020
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has forced all of us to adapt to a new way of living. For the student-athletes of Aspire Academy that meant to learn and train at home and to communicate with their teachers and coaches via Zoom or WhatsApp. In the following interview Grade 11-student Ibrahim Darwish, who is part of the Academy’s squash team, talks about his experiences of being a student-athlete of Aspire in times of Corona.
Ibrahim, from March 10 on students have been asked to stay at home. How did you feel about this transition?
Of course, the whole situation was challenging for us, especially at the beginning where we needed to get used to online classes. But Aspire supported us in every way they could to make the transition as easy for us as possible. They provided us computers, tablets, they helped us in every way they could to adapt quickly to the new learning environment. Aspire also sent us some gym equipment and we had online sessions with our coaches.
What did you miss the most about not being able to be on site at Aspire Academy?
Matches, competitions, training together and, of course, all my coaches, teachers and classmates. It was mentally hard to continue training and studying while staying at home all the time. We had Zoom-sessions with the sports psychologist, which helped us in terms of motivation and focus. Also, the squash team had the chance to meet online with World Number 1 Squash player Mohamed Elshorbagy, which was a real motivation boost for us.
Was it hard to study without having your teachers and peers around?
You definitely have to be more independent, especially when it comes to things like doing homework. In a classroom you could always ask the teacher right wary, now you had to do it using WhatsApp. Also talking to classmates was different, it mainly happened via Zoom. Also the school schedule was changed, all our online classes were taking place in the afternoon.
What did your training look like after March 10?
We usually trained from 9 to 10am with our coaches, then we were asked to do exercises according to our training plan. We were using this time as an opportunity to get physically stronger, focused on things like core, upper body, legs and shoulders and we did a lot of high intensity sessions. Aspire provided us gym equipment like bars, weights, medicine balls or dumbbells, which really helped us a lot. Besides talking to our coaches we also had regular sessions with a nutritionist and sport psychologist.
Was there something that this time staying at home has taught you?
I think we definitely learnt a lot about being more independent and how to motivate ourselves. If we face a similar challenge in the future, we will be prepared.