Coronavirus: Footballers must make wise use of free time – Chicago Fire’s Azira

The midfielder has invested his energy to further his higher education in sports management as soccer activities remain suspended

Uganda midfielder Micheal Azira has called upon his teammates to make use of their free time during the coronavirus break.

The Chicago Fire star decided to use the break to further his master’s degree in sports management at Southern New Hampshire University and says a footballer should always have a schedule to follow.

“You have to use your time wisely,” Azira, 32, told Forbes Magazine.

“You’re bored when you’re not occupied. If you occupy your mind there’s no way you’re going to be bored. It’s important to have a routine.

“As a player, we have a schedule, and these are times you need to sit down and reflect without someone directing you to do these things.

“It’s important for all soccer players to use this time wisely and improve themselves as individuals. At the end of the day, we won’t play soccer for the rest of our lives. It’s what we do, not who we are.

“Who we are will always be there and it’s important to invest in who you are, and to me, that’s very important.

“You have to find a reason to get out of bed every day. You need to push yourself. It’s better to be prepared because you’re setting yourself up to fail if you’re not prepared.”

Azira, who made his Cranes debut at 29 and qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon, said people should not be negative as they deal with the coronavirus.

“As bad as it is, it’s a possibility and opportunity to prepare for our lives after our playing careers,” the midfielder added.

“We shouldn’t be negative because everyone is dealing with it [coronavirus] right now. We are all human beings. We need to stay positive and be kind to other people.”

The Ugandan joined Chicago Fire from Montreal Impact in August last year and is expected to earn his master’s degree in May 2021.

Azira is also planning to be a mentor and coach for youth players with dreams to be professional footballers.

“I want to use what I’ve learned to help the young players,” Azira said. “I want to be the person I needed when I was young. I want to be able to give back to the young players, motivate them and encourage them.”