Covid 19: Bulgarian Soccer Coach Feels it Cool in Kerala

On an assignment to coach budding soccer talents and set up an ambitious international training centre in Kerala, Bulgarian coach Dimitar Pantev may be upset that his plans have gone for a toss, at least for now, because of the outbreak of COVID-19 disease, but he is all praise for the positive vibes of the people and the state government’s efforts to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.

The lockdown in Kerala, forcing people in home quarantine, has surely come as a setback for the famed soccer coach who has drawn up great plans to coach football talents and transform Kerala into a soccer powerhouse of India. But he is not hugely ruffled.

“I was not shaken when everything came to a grinding halt. Here I could see people with positive vibes around me and their palpable optimism made me calm. I saw here the right rules and right step being taken by the state government to contain the epidemic,” said Pantev, who had landed in Kozhikode on March 4.

Hailing from Varna in Bulgaria, the 43-year-old football coach was assigned by Dubai-based H16 Sports Services for a feasibility study to set up their international training centre in Kerala.

“Following COVID-19 pandemic, I went into quarantine in an apartment at Pattambi in Palakkad district. My agent in India and my colleagues here took care of me and I got everything I needed,” he said.

Pantev, in a Facebook post, lauded Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Health Minister K K Shailaja, officials and health workers for their support to him and immaculate efforts to snuff out COVID-19 from the state.

“The authorities of a close by hospital called on and told me that I have no symptoms. Now I spend my time doing indoor exercises and getting myself updated of what is happening in the world through my computer,” he said.

Pantev, who loves to savour ‘delicious’ Indian food, has been on a diet of fruits and salads along with rice and chicken during the quarantine period.

“H16 Sports Services requested my expertise for doing this experiment/study on the feasibility of a highly professional training centre with the motivation and vision of providing the best skill development programme for football lovers of Kerala”, he said.

On the situation in his own country, the coach noted that things are normal and people are not in panic there. “People understand the situation very well. Like other countries, there are also restrictions in place in Bulgaria. I think the situation will ease in Europe after a few weeks,” he hoped.



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