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Cavalry FC gets ‘creative’ during COVID-19 Canadian Premier League preseason pause

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Cavalry FC players are set to continue personal training while in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to head coach and general manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

But Cavalry FC’s gaffer admits his club may need to be inventive while coordinating training over the league-mandated pause in preseason. (Note: The Canadian Premier League has since postponed the start of the 2020 season indefinitely.)

“We’ve got a group that’s creative,” Wheeldon Jr. told Total Soccer News Saturday. “For us, because it’s a voluntary home isolation for 14 days, we’ll be creative with workouts. So, our medical and sports science team and our technical team will put together workouts.

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“Because of the stress and panic out there, maybe they’ll start with a 15 to 20 minute yoga program to start the day. And then get into a physical work out afterwards. We’ll have at-home skills.”

But the challenge will be managing current fitness levels.

“We’re making sure right now they don’t dip, but maintaining where they’re at. So, when they come back in a couple weeks, hopefully, we just pick up where we left off.”

Canadian Premier League on pause for COVID-19

On Friday, the Canadian Premier League announced a 14-day hold on all preseason activity due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The move mirrors similar actions taken by other North American and most European professional sports leagues in the wake of the Coronavirus. At the time of writing, the league is still set to kick off its second season April 11.

However, the Alberta government has requested all gatherings of 250 or more people be cancelled in an effort to curtail the outbreak. There’s currently no end-date in sight.

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But, the halt in preseason makes sense to Wheeldon Jr., who acknowledges the severity of the global event.

“We play professional sports for living,” said Wheeldon Jr. “It isn’t life and death. It’s entertainment. We recognize our role. There are bigger and greater things out there and it’s a way of bringing the community together by playing our part to flatten the curve.”

Cavalry FC had already cancelled a planned preseason trip to Mexico, where three matches had been scheduled against Mexican clubs, before the league’s announcement Friday. And the Cavs’ head coach praised the club’s leadership with its handling of the situation to date.

Cavalry FC finding inspiration in its roots

“In fairness, we got a phenomenal leadership and ownership group with Linda Southern-Heathcott, our owner, Ian Allison, our club president. When you look up to those two, there’s a calmness about their leadership. They’ve been around sports for 45 years. They’ve seen a lot of things happen and a lot of crises happen.”

Tommy Wheeldon Jr., Cavalry FC, Calgary, Forge FC, Canadian Premier League

Cavalry FC’s coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. reacts to play during the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals against Cavalry FC at ATCO Field November 2, 2019. Photo: ©Stuart Gradon/Total Soccer News

And Wheeldon Jr. believes the club can garner inspiration from its military ties – Spruce Meadows has a formal relationship with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse armoured regiment.

“We’ve got the military ethos, the Cavalry, behind us anyway,” said Wheeldon Jr. “And we ended up going to ‘adapt and overcome’. We were going into situations we had never faced before. Best way to face it is by recognizing what that challenge was, adapting to it and overcoming it.

“When this news came out, I met with my management team within the Cavalry and our captains group. If ever there was a time where we have to stay true to our ethos, it’s now.”

And key to overcoming the challenge will be staying connected, according to Wheeldon Jr.

“We’ve got a WhatsApp chat group that stay in contact with each other. Even though we’re doing this voluntary home isolation, we’ll still connect with each other in other ways. It won’t break us. It will actually end up binding us tighter because we’ll have found a way through it.”

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About Author

Stuart Gradon

Editor of Total Soccer News | Photographer and Writer | Stuart Gradon is soccer journalist and multimedia professional, having worked at 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. He covers Cavalry FC and Canadian Premier League. Stuart is available for media appearances, including podcasts, television, and radio. Email to inquire.

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