From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 59: EGUCHI Naomi, Fitness Coach of Thailand Women's National Team & U-20 Women's National Team
29 October 2021
A New Challenge as a Fitness Coach
Four months after Head Coach OKAMOTO Miyo and GK Coach TODOROKI Natsuko started coaching for the Thailand Women's National Team in April 2021, I finally joined the national team training camp in early August after two weeks of quarantine upon arriving in Thailand in July. I believe my appointment is unique for the JFA overseas coach dispatch programme, as I am being dispatched as a physical coach (commonly referred as “fitness coach” in Thailand) rather than a football coach, and that I am based in Canada.
Once joining the national team camp, I focused on finding and establishing my position on the team. The Thailand Women's National Team has another Thai fitness coach. Since I don't speak Thai, and as most of the players do not understand English, I asked the Thai fitness coach to continue to lead the daily warmups, cool downs, and other team routines. On the other hand, I will then point out suggestions to him to make changes to the warmup and physical training menu, while being in charge of helping injured players return to competitions. It is difficult to communicate in detail using words, but I have been visiting the medical room as often as possible to keep track of the players’ conditions, and I think I am now able to function as a bridge between the medical staff and the players. Although I am the fitness coach for both the Thailand Women's National Team and the U-20 Thailand Women's National Team, with regard to U-20 activities, it was not until recently that a short-term training camp for the U-20 Women’s National Team was finally planned for November, with the AFC U20 Women's Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers and the team activities for the U-20 Women's National Team having been cancelled.
The choice of holding a long-term training camp and tour to Palestine
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions have been placed on sports activities throughout Thailand, and with the exception of professional men’s teams, club team activities have been prohibited for a while now. Therefore, in light of the fact that female players cannot play football without the national team activities, the Thailand Women's National Team conducted a long-term training camp to prepare for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022™ qualifiers. Although long-term training camps are common for the national teams in Thailand, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all team members had to go through a strict limitation and were prohibited from going outside in order to minimise the risk of infection. Living together with restrictions can be stressful, but everyone was able to come up with ways to get through it. At the end of the long summer training camp, we headed to Palestine for the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers. The team was strictly limited with their activities during the tournament period, as the AFC took strict preventative measures, and the team was not allowed to leave the hotel at all times. Although the team finished top of the group, thanks to the hard work of the players, considering the transportation and the quarantine period after returning home, we were reminded of how difficult it is to compete in international competitions during the Covid-19 pandemic. The long-term training camp will start again in November, this time to prepare the team for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022™ to be held in mid-January of next year.
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