BY ANDREW McSTEEN
When the UK Government announced the COVID-19 lockdown on March 23, just four reasons were given for leaving your own household, one of which was to partake in one form of exercise a day, either alone or with members of your own household.
But, despite the Premier League pausing the day before Crystal Palace were due to take on Bournemouth on March 13, Eagles forward Jordan Ayew found himself in a lucky position in his household to keep himself fit – thanks to his two older brothers; Ibrahim who plays professionally in Gibraltar for Europa FC and Andre, who plays for Swansea City.
“Before the Bournemouth game Ibrahim wanted to come and spend the weekend to watch the game, but our game got cancelled and then his game was cancelled at the same time, so he called me and said he will take the next flight and come to London,” explained the Eagles striker to PalaceTV.
“Andre’s game was then cancelled too, and he said he would come for a couple of days as well – we really didn’t know what was coming after the Bournemouth game. They brought their stuff for maybe three-five days but ended up staying for two months. Andre came with his family, and with my oldest brother too, there were around eight, nine and 10 in the house locked up.
“So, we’ve been training together outside. We were doing our runs on the road, coming back, then playing Teqball (ball sport played on a curved table), 2v1 and 2v2. My oldest brother is a defender, so he was defending me and my other brother attacking. We were trying to keep ourselves busy, it was a good experience.”
“Of course, it was sad [with the lockdown due to COVID-19], but it was really, really good as well as I’ve never spent this much time with the family – two months. Maybe I only see them at the weekends, but no more than two weeks, so it was really good to spend time with my nieces. It was a really good feeling to play Monopoly and some games at home and it was really important to spend time with the kids at home.”
While Monopoly was a firm family favourite, the Ghana international, who has scored eight times this season for Palace, was happy to be back training as the Premier League allowed non-contact, individual training from last May as part of their ‘Project Restart’.
That training still has some tight restrictions and guidelines, but it is almost business as usual with Ayew admitting it has taken some time to get used to.
“It was a really nice feeling, because obviously we are all back into what we love doing and that is playing football, it was good to see the boys,” he said. “Obviously, everyone was really scared at the beginning (of training returning) because no-one knew what it was and everyone was worried, but now things are getting better and people are getting more confident, it’s good.
“It’s like the days in the academy; you wash your clothes at home, put the stuff what you need in the box, park at the cricket club and take everything you need from the car.
“You then do prehab, have your training session and then come back, do a gym session and if there’s no gym session, everyone goes home. It’s quite quick.
“Even though we are in a really safe environment, when you go for prehab, I wear gloves and then just continue training and don’t feel like taking them off. I continue the session and after it I take the gloves off, sanitise my hands and drive back home – it (lockdown) is very, very strange but it’s getting better so, hopefully, after the nine games everything will be fine.”
Those remaining nine league games could see Palace push for a European spot, but whatever happens, Ayew is happy to be back playing competitively very soon, although he will miss the support from the stands with games being played behind-closed-doors, starting with Bournemouth away this Saturday.
“Football is my life; I grew up in football. It is the only thing I literally know how to do and the only thing that keeps me busy,” he said. “Not having football for two months, I was really sad, not depressed, but not too far from it. Things are moving slowly, there is football on TV, it is a good thing for me. I am really, really excited for the first game back of the season.
“Now we are resuming the season, but it’s like a new season basically because we’ve had maybe two, three weeks to train together, things change, I cannot explain it, but without fans it is not the same thing, we all know how important the fans are.”
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