Almost two months after being stuck at home, it brought great joy and a bit of relief to return to the training field with my teammates at Minnesota United last week after the go ahead was given for us to restart some individual training . Meeting up with the boys and the staff again was like seeing your old school mates after the August vacation. Only this time it was a vacation where you had to be quarantined inside your home where all you could do was stay fit on your own and take in everything there was on television.
Luckily I had my Trinidadian teammate and friend Joevin Jones with me and we got the chance to analyze ourselves, look back at where we came from and think about where we want to go. We spent some of the days looking back at some of our old games for the national team that we were able to source from the TTFA Media and we also assessed some matches from the last World Cup campaign to see where we went wrong and also take in some of the good stuff we did like the two home game against Panama and Mexico. I still can’t believe how unlucky Joevin was to have his goal called for offside in the first half.
Minnesota has been my home for three and a half years now after the club brought me over from Orlando City in January of 2017. It was an important move for me as I saw the ambition that the club had and my old manager Adrian Heath was someone I knew well and who I’d play for throughout my career in the US. He knew me better than any coach. So in a nutshell I was delighted to be starting a new chapter.
I faced another obstacle with a second ACL injury and that was another challenging period for me but I’d been through this same nightmare before and this time I knew what to expect so I made up my mind that I would wake up better from it. The surgery went well in 2018 and I slowly started to build myself back. Coming into the new season in 2020 I felt like I was getting back to my old self again. There was the feeling that the boss may be using me as the “Number 10” but I was prepared to play wherever he wanted me to and do my best for the team.
Coming back from an ACL injury is no easy ride as any athlete who has been through would tell you. But my mind was made up and my hopes were high to play as many games as possible in the season.
But the Almighty had other plans and not just for me but for everyone. Who’s to judge him? All we could do was sit by and try to do all the right things to ensure we come away from this pandemic as best and safe as possible. Many people have suffered. A lot have died, lost loved ones and many are jobless and have to fight hard to make ends meet. The news over here said there are now 899 deaths in Minnesota.
I have friends in Trinidad who are fighting to stay in good shape. I’ve seen and heard about persons in Minnesota who are struggling to stay up. Right at the club I know there are so many people we would normally see on the weekends for matches who haven’t been able to be part of something that brought so much life and hope to us.
All in all, I thank God for where we are now being able to tell a story and being able to live to fight another day. But in all of this, there have been some very, very sad and disheartening things happening and I was shocked and angry to see on my social media pages what occurred to the gentleman in Minneapolis this week.
This has been on the television all day and night for the past forty eight hours or so and it all went down in a place that became my home for the past three years. It’s tough to see it. We stay home as much as we can and go out only for the necessary stuff and for training. But now I feel like staying away even more because of the scenes taking place here in Minnesota.
I stand strong as a Black athlete from the Caribbean and everyday we strive to overcome hurdles and face our challenges. When we fight, whether on the field or in our private spaces we do it in order to bring our best game that represents millions of people. We do it to bring some sort of stress relief or joy to them. We go out there to fight for better and fulfill our dreams.
My teammates and I, and the staff, everyone, are like a family trying to set the right example. It’s the same thing when I get together with the national team. George Floyd was the same. He had a family and he represented people. The way he went out could never be right. It’s scary to be honest. Try covering your face and preventing yourself from breathing and see how it feels after two minutes. Wearing a facemask is enough of a struggle and we have to do it to stay alive in this situation we are in today. But we have the option to take the mask off whenever we want. George didn’t have that option. Imagine what it was like for him not having the chance to breathe properly.
It’s important for us to stand up and stand together to make a better place for ourselves and for our children. I hope we all come out of a difficult situation in a positive frame of mind. We all want life to return to normal but nobody really knows what it’s going to be like in six months or a year. We don’t even know what the MLS season will be like. I don’t know when next I will be wearing the Red, Black and White again proudly for my country. I am still trying to imagine what it will be like playing a match with no fans in the stands. But what I do know, is that together as one we can still have a life worth fighting for.
This was written for Pushing Limits by Kevin Molino, a Carenage-born professional football player. He played at the 2007 FIFA Under 17 and 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cups for his country. He is now waiting for the next opening whistle in American Major League Soccer.