Gamers trim down for COVID-19's new norm

Anger is mounting over the indiscipline of many local and returning Jamaicans who are not following COVID-19 protocols.

Though pollster Don Anderson found that 53% of Jamaicans disagreed with the government’s decision to restart the tourism sector in mid-June because of its likeliness to contribute to a spike in cases, many argue that the indiscipline of local and returning Jamaicans and their ignorance of proper COVID-19 protocols are equally a threat.

Kadie-Ann Dehaney, goalkeeper for the Melbourne Vixens, says she stayed in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of reasons “it didn’t make sense to leave Australia because our competitions could continue and the Jamaican borders were closed at the time.” Consequently, Dehaney knows what a lockdown 2.0 looks and feels like.

This Q&A explores Dehaney’s netball journey away from home before and during a second lockdown due to a COVID-19 spike in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

Melissa Talbert (MT): What is your living arrangement like?

Kadie-Ann Dehaney (KD): Before the pandemic, I lived with my Jamaican teammate who plays for the other Melbourne team (Collingwood magpies) based in Melbourne. Together we rented a flat located 10 minutes from our training venue.

However, from mid-March to late-May, four Jamaicans (including me) stayed in Perth, a city in Australia. At the time we were miles away from home (Jamaica) and only had each other.

Because our competition started on August 1st, both Melbourne teams (Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood magpies) had to relocate to Queensland. The virus was spreading widely in Melbourne— leading to lockdown 2.0. One that’s happening as we speak! The outbreak in Melbourne is bad; before entering Queensland we had to quarantine for two weeks.

MT: Why Perth?

KD: We were there because Jhaniele Fowler-Reid lives in Perth and she has bigger accommodation to hold all of us. We went to Perth to be together to get through the pandemic rather than staying by ourselves without family.

MT: Your unstable living situation because of COVID-19 could have in some way affected your mood. How does attitude/mood influence a game?

KD: Generally, attitude is very important for performance for anything; not just a game or a sport. For me, it’s a process. Eating healthy, sufficient sleep and staying hydrated are things that influence a game greatly. To be honest, though I’m a night owl, I have to go to bed early to perform at my best. Don’t eat right? That’s a poor game in the making right there. And if we’re being all the way honest, I’m not a big fan of drinking water, but I have to stay hydrated to do well.

MT: Since a lot of time is being spent inside nowadays, how do housemates make sure the other is comfortable?

KD: Living with someone I know beyond the court helps a lot. We played netball for the Sunshine Girls together; we just understand each other, so living together is rather easy. Though I must add, one is untidy and the other is very neat but we somehow manage to make it work by not invading each other’s space— space is very important. Equally important is sharing tasks. For us, one cooks and the other cleans … it’s things like that.

However, on days off, we do stuff together like sightseeing or head to the beach. We try to make Australia as homie (Jamaican) as possible. We also visit historical sites— we’ve seen some in Victoria and Brisbane.

MT: The New York Times described Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions as “some of the toughest restrictions in the world.” Based on your observations, what is the response to Covid-19 in Melbourne like?

KD: Melbourne, at the moment, is not responding well to COVID-19. Every state except Melbourne is back to normality. Melbourne has gone into a second lockdown—no one is allowed in or out of the state for any reason, it is mandatory to wear a mask and no one is allowed to be out beyond 800pm.

MT: Do you miss Jamaica? Why?

KD: I get so homesick! I get homesick because this country is very different from Jamaica. Not to be judgemental, but they party differently here. Going to a party means sitting down and drinking until you pass out. The food? Their food can’t compare to that of Jamaica’s.

What always gets me though is not seeing family and friends for a year. It’s very hard being away for so long.

I’m in competition at the moment (just started actually) and at the moment, the season is going well. My team is at the top after three rounds.

But not having family watch you perform is hard! Especially when the family of your teammates gets to come to games.

It feels quite lonely at times— now I’m in my fourth year and being away from family is just as tough as it was in my first year.

MT: Who in Jamaica do you miss the most?

KD: My grandma, as always.

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