LIVING with the Covid-19 pandemic has made life so difficult in India that striker Willis Plaza is considering not returning to Mohammedan SC where he signed just a few months ago, and scored a few vital goal during their 2020 promotion qualifiers which began on October 8, with five teams vying for a spot in the I-League.
The round-robin competition ended on October 19, with Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting Club drawing 0-0 with Bengaluru United, taking them up to the I-League (second flight) for the first time since 2015, by registering three wins and a draw in four games.
Plaza, 33, was 2019 joint top-scorer in the I-League and had played in India since 2017, while also having stints in El Salvador and Belgium. Despite recent successes and having had multiple seasons in India with the East Bengal and Churchill Brothers clubs, Plaza is wondering whether India is the place to be now, given that the country has over nine million cases of Covid-19.
“The money has dropped, the support has also dropped and I think it all has to do with India being so high-risk with the coronavirus,” Plaza said. “The social distancing is very strict over there in India and I don’t think it’s a life for a footballer at present. I am not sure if I will be going back.”
Plaza spoke of the difficulty of isolation in India and having to do it because he is the breadwinner for his family. Under such conditions football became more of a job than a passion.
“It was really difficult,” he stated, “you are out there alone and I am just grateful to be back in Trinidad and I have now started to find back the love for the football and everything.”
Plaza is also glad to be back in the national team under coach Terry Fenwick, under whom he won TT Pro League titles at local clubs San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC. Speaking at Fenwick’s session on Friday, Plaza felt comfortable working with the Englishman again.
“It’s a plus for me working with Fenwick knowing the type of football he plays and the type of person he is, and knowing that I played with him before, I know I can fit in his system and I am just happy to be here.”
Plaza hopes to regain a place in the national team for the Concacaf and FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year, having last played for Trinidad and Tobago in a 1-0 friendly loss away to Wales under head coach Dennis Lawrence in early 2019. Plaza thinks a lot of hard work is needed leading up to next year’s competitions.
“We are a bit behind so we now have to try and catch back that level and bring the country back to where it was in our football,” Plaza said, “ most of the players understand what it will take and are willing to work hard and I think we will get there.”