"Be careful, youngsters. The virus came as a shock to me. "

More than a month ago both Tom Pietermaat and his girlfriend tested positive for covid-19. Our midfielder was seriously ill. Listen to his story.

“A very strong flu feeling, that’s how it was. Ten days in bed or on the sofa, we didn’t have the strength to get up. We had to force ourselves to eat something. We lost our smell and taste capacity, felt really low. After ten days we tried to get up and take control over our lives again. The medical department of the club guided us through this horrible period. We could phone our doctor whenever we wanted, he answered our questions. We had a check up two or three times during that period. Got fresh food from the club to build our strength up, despite the fact that we didn’t feel hungry or wanted to eat. Then, when we eventually got up out of bed and started walking and running again, we immediately felt it would take quite a bit of time to get back to full fitness. Ten minutes workout, that was the maximum at the time. I couldn’t get up the stairs. I asked myself, how will I ever be a football player again?”

“Eventually, a day before our home game against STVV I tested negative and was allowed to come out of quarantine. I rejoined the group on the training field but I knew it was going to take some more time to get back to top level. The last two weeks however I started making progress, was able to join in fully and felt the energy was coming back to me.”

Did you ever think that a young sportsman like you would ever be confronted with the virus?

“I knew that there was always a possibility I could test positive. Like everybody else. But then in the back of your mind you realise you’re young, fit and your resistance is what it should be. You live in a healthy way, your sleeping pattern is okay… How on earth am I going to be a victim, feel the symptoms first and then  test positive? So yes, it came as a real shock to me. In my mind I said that during those ten days of quarantine I will be training on my own, do some running, exercise at home… but the reality was that I just couldn’t get out of bed and do anything. I never expected it to be like that.”

Have your views changed towards the whole covid story?

“Yes, in a way I do. I remember when returning to training and we went for a run I saw twelve or more children sitting on a bench closely together. I told them: please don’t do a thing like that because even when you are young you are at risk of catching it. Look, it is a bit of a lottery really: either you get it, or you don’t. Be careful. In my case, when I was diagnosed with the virus I  never thought I would be feeling so ill as I did. Yes, because of my experience I think very differently about it now.”

Why this statement, Tom? What message do you want to give to people?

“I don’t want to create a feeling of anxiety or panic amongst younger people. But I want them to know: be very careful and vigilant, don’t take any risks. Don’t just think about yourselves, think about your family too as the virus is so contagious. And believe me, it is no laughing matter at all. Be responsible for yourself, your friends and family. Stick to the rules. All the time. Be very, very careful.”

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