Imagine waking up at 3am, having breakfast and then having a high-intensity training session at 4.30am.
That’s exactly what the Colombia U-17 squad had to do in order to prepare themselves for the time difference between their capital Bogota, and India, where they take on Spain in their opening match of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
Anticipating that jet lag could be a huge hindrance to their campaign since the time difference is a huge 10-and-a-half-hours, coach Carlos Paniagua devised a plan, which started right from October 1.
Every day, the girls were asked to wake up an hour early. So the first day, they woke up at 9am, the next day at 8am, and so on.
“The earliest we woke up was 3am,” Paniagua said at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “It was not easy for the girls to have breakfast at 3.30 am and then be on the ground at 4 am to start training at 4.30 am. They know how important it is and they did it without any complaints,” he said.
The team reached India on October 8 at around 7 am and were all tired and sleepy but their coach Paniagua didn’t allow them to hit the sack. Instead, they went out for breakfast, lunch and as their captain Mary Jose Alvarez said, they “had one of the laziest and most difficult training sessions that day”.
It all worked out for them. They were fresh the next day and have been having some great training sessions.
In the four appearances they’ve made at the U-17 World Cups, Colombia have never gone past the group stage. They’ll fancy themselves this time around but with Mexico and China the other two teams in the group, it’s going to be challenging.
“We’re ready for the challenge. We’ve had a great preparation for this tournament and the girls are confident,” Paniagua said.