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In times of the corona pandemic, head coach Jos Luhukay finds himself confronted by a host of new challenges. One is to reconcile his players to the current circumstances, despite all the uncertainty, and prepare them for a return to full training at some unknown time in the future. We spoke to him about the latest situation.

Hello Jos, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We'll start with the most important question, how are you and the family?  

We're fine, thanks for asking.

How's your day looking at the moment?

I'm at home 90 per cent of the time. I'm also avoiding social contact and observing the recommmended measures as closely as possible. Where I can, I try to take my mind off things by exercising. I vary it: one day I go for a ride on my mountain bike, the next day I go jogging for an hour. It's the best way for me to clear my head.

How does a football coach deal with only being able to work indirectly with his team? 

It's difficult because essentially I'm not able to do my job at the moment, though I'm giving a lot of thought to what progress we've made with the team this season. I'm reflecting on it and analysing it very thoroughly at the moment.

How are you communicating with your colleagues?

Only by phone. It isn't easy, but the coaching team are making the best of it. Our performance coaches Karim Rashwan and Christoph Hainc Scheller are in particular demand just now.

What's their role?

They're doing a fantastic job and are in daily contact with the players. They're responsible for managing and evaluating the training sessions the players are doing at home. They're very committed and giving us regular feedback.

What contribution can the medical department make?

The physiotherapists and club doctors also speak to each other every day and are available to answer any questions the players may have. They're doing everything they can to support the team from a distance. At our last training session together our club doctor Volker Carrero informed us and the players about the coronavirus and the necessary precautions and guidance.

How are you experiencing the players at the moment?

I obviously get the daily performance reports from Karim and Christoph. I have to say the way the players are coping with this difficult phase gives me a good feeling. They are conducting themselves professionally and working very hard. I have a lot of respect for that because they'd much rather be out on the pitch, of course. It takes a lot of discipline but they're all going along with it superbly well.

Jos Luhukay: "The way the players are coping with this difficult phase gives me a good feeling."

Jos Luhukay: "The way the players are coping with this difficult phase gives me a good feeling."

What additional support can you give the players? Are there certain aspects that need more focus now? 

First of all, we hope everyone stays healthy. That's the most important thing. We're paying very close attention to the recommendations of the authorities and passing them on to the players. In this respect, we have show the way by avoiding social contact and keeping distance from others.

What are you preparing yourself and the players for now?

The biggest challenge at the moment is ensuring all players stay healthy and are fit for the time we resume full training. On the day we get going again, whenever that is, we obviously want to carry on where we left off.

Is the stoppage an opportunity for the injured players to catch up with the rest of the squad?

We hope so. It gives Christopher Avevor and Christian Conteh more time to get up to the level of the other players. And Henk Veerman also has a chance of being back when we eventually start playing again.

Things such as analysing opponents aren't so important now, or are they?

No, that's not relevant now. The challenge is to keep the players at a good level of fitness and conditioning. When we start training together again, there'll certainly come a time when we can turn our attention to our next opponents.

What can you plan well from home as a coach?

It's not easy, but I'm giving a lot of thought to the moment we can gather on the training ground again. That involves thinking about how we want to plan and structure the training.

A lot of old games are being shown on TV and on the internet at the moment. What game would you like to watch again in full and why?  

As a football aficionado I've seen and been involved in a lot of great games. It's difficult to single any one out.

What advice do you have for the fans? What can and should everyone do? 

We're all experiencing an exceptional situation and a lot of uncertainty. I hope our fans and everyone else is putting the recommended measures into practice. We can't simply think of our own health, we have to think about everyone else. We can only do this together, so we have to take it very seriously.

Many thanks for talking to us, Jos!


Photos: Witters



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