Kaizer Chiefs veteran Bernard Parker has spoken of his delight as the squad returned to training this week, nearly four months since they were last together.
Chiefs are hoping to wrap up a first Absa Premiership title in four years this season, and lead second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns by four points, though they have played a game more and have eight matches remaining.
But for Parker, just being on the training pitch again is a big step forward and a reason for celebration, before they start to think about matches.
“It really feels good to be back at training,” Parker told his club’s website. “This virus caught us all off-guard. I was so used to training at the High Performance Centre at the Village, often working out extra, and never acquired a treadmill at home.
“Luckily, I have a nice garden, so I worked out in the garden, doing a lot of running and all kinds of other exercises.”
“It’s also great to be with your teammates again. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Parker has been keeping a keen eye on the European leagues, which are being played behind closed doors, as will the Premiership when it restarts.
“It was interesting to watch. It’s quite intelligent how they [broadcasters] try to create an atmosphere in the stadium for the viewers, by using audio of supporters singing and giving the impression that there are fans in the stadium, as they do with the LaLiga games.
“It’s also noteworthy to see that especially the top sides, who have the best players, seem to perform the best. That says a lot about their mental approach to the game. Look at Real Madrid, who have really been doing great since the restart, thanks to the players’ mental strength.
“It’s a lesson for us as well. To be able keep our momentum, we need to be strong mentally. That’s going to be crucial when the league resumes.”