Over 5,000 miles away, in the mountains of Terasopolis, Brazil (approximately one hour away from Rio de Janeiro), Ricardo Diegues hasn’t let that day he returns to the blue turf slip from his sight. He has been working tirelessly to maintain his elite form which allowed him to score 19 goals across 12 games in his debut season with UCFC.

“We have a nice open space here with a small soccer field. With that, I’m able to practice soccer, agility and fitness daily, which has been great for me to make sure my body is healthy and ready for whenever we can get back.”

Being able to focus on his craft his been a welcome distraction for Diegues given the grim situation in his home country. Thus far, the South American nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus with 61,888 confirmed cases and 4,205 deaths having been reported by the World Health Organization, trailing only the U.S. in both categories amongst North and South American countries.

The public safety measures that have had gone into place in Brazil since the onset of the COVID-19 are nearly identical to those in the United States. Brazilians have been told to stay home, constantly wash their hands, wear a mask and gloves in public and avoid close contact with others. With this newfound time at home, Ricardo has been taking care of the house, cleaning and perfecting a new craft: his cooking skills.

“We have an organic garden at my house. So, we produce a lot of our own food, which also makes it way healthier. We’ve made a lot of different recipes so far, but an interesting one was making sweet potato gnocchi from scratch. That was pretty good.”

Diegues has also made sure to keep in touch with his teammates during the pandemic to make sure they and their families are safe.

“I’ve been keeping in touch with the boys through the group chat and on Instagram. Every now and then, I chat with them, checking if everyone and their families are doing fine and if they are all safe during this tough and weird moment we are facing right now.”

Until the day that the games resume, and the team is back together, Ricardo urges restraint before returning to life as normal, knowing that we will all be together again soon.

“My message would be for everyone to keep doing their part, to keep respecting the World Health Organization’s recommendations and to keep being patient. It is a tough moment that every single person is facing. But if we do our part, we are going to win the battle sooner. And I’m sure we will all be together at The AUD celebrating goals and wins again! In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!”