The majority of people have been confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but not Springbok Women’s centre Zinhle Ndawonde, who has been on duty serving as a firefighter at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban.
With the 21-day lockdown being enforced by the government to limit the spread of the virus, and roads and airports being used only for essential services, it has been quieter than usual for Ndawonde at work, but she says as a firefighter one always has to be alert and ready to go in the event of an emergency.
With life in general operating at a slower pace Ndawonde has been using her spare time wisely by channeling it into her training, and although her work gym has been shut down temporarily for safety reasons, she says she is one of a lucky few to have a little space to run.
“At this stage we have one cargo aircraft arriving at the airport per day, so it is much quieter than usual, but we still have to do daily building inspections among other things, so we are keeping fairly busy,” said Ndawonde.
“It has been quite an adjustment though because one has to wear safety gear such as masks and gloves all the time, but it is a good feeling to know that we are there to assist if any emergencies come up.
“It is very strange to see the airport this empty though. It almost seems as though a movie could be filmed here.”
According to the hard-running centre, social distancing and hygiene, in particular, have been key focus areas for their work team during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are a tight-knit unit, and since we are constantly in one another’s space, we have had to adapt our behavior to be more cautious in terms of social distancing and the items we touch in the last few weeks because of the risks associated with COVID-19,” she said.
“One has to be cautious during the pandemic, so we are all very focused on our safety and that of those around us.”
Ndawonde adopted a positive attitude to the changes in her training programme: “Our training has been adapted due to the lockdown, so our focus is more on body weight exercises, but fortunately I am lucky to have more space to run at our work base.
“I cannot do long distances, but there is sufficient space to get in some cardio training. I have also made good use of my resistance band, and that has helped a lot.
“While this may not be ideal for match fitness, the important thing is that we maintain our fitness levels as much as possible and ensure that we do everything we can to be as ready as possible when rugby resumes.
“We have yet to see what the season holds with the COVID-19 outbreak, but this is a very important year for the team in terms of our preparation for the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, so as players we need to ensure that when we assemble again we are on the same page in terms of where we are fitness wise.”