COVID-19 Closeup: Lirim Hajrullahu
Subject: Lirim Hajrullahu, former CFL kicker, who recently signed with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
What type of training would you be doing right now if the pandemic hadn’t hit? My training hasn’t really changed. I have been really lucky to maintain my football programs the same.
What are you doing now to train? Depending on the week, I am working out three to four times a week and kicking three to four times a week too. The workouts are organized with my personal trainer at Athletic Fluency, Miguel Wason in London, and the head trainers of the Rams. They have been working together to get me at my best come July training camp. Kicking-wise, I work with my kicking coach Ken Urquhart, better known as Coach Kick, at least three or four times a week in Hamilton.
What is the biggest obstacle to football training during the pandemic? Not being able to work with other athletes and compete on a regular basis.
What do you miss the most about the pre-pandemic world of pro football? I miss the live entertainment. Pro sports always gave people the opportunity to escape our everyday lives.
What do you miss the least about the pre-pandemic world of pro football? Traffic.
What is the biggest thing wrong with pro football? The misconception of how great a sport football is, psychologically and physically. I understand the dangerous aspects of the sport but a lot of people do not realize the opportunities football presents to players during and after football. This is the only sport that does not discriminate against body types, age, and sex. You have different body types that you would not particularly think to become friends because you have guys who are 250 pounds and someone who is 160 pounds becoming friends for life. It is a special game.
Is there an easy way to fix the problem? Education and focus on the positive of football from a mental health perspective and how it helps with team building, perseverance, and many other character building opportunities that kids would not get anywhere else.
Is there a hard way to fix the problem? No. It is just breaking down the barriers.
What would be one suggestion to make pro football better? Kick more field goals (I am kidding). I think pro football is great right now, I think the only thing is to make it more popular by having more athletes be involved with the community and high school teams to inspire new generations.
Has the pandemic changed how you will approach your sport in the future? Yes. If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters.
What is the first thing you are going to do when life returns to normal? Visit some of my friends I haven’t seen in a while.
What daily activity do you miss the most? I miss being free. Being free to go into a pool, grocery store, or even speaking with people without the thought of getting sick.
What is your favourite outfit to wear around the house if you are working from home? Shorts and a T-shirt.
What do you do to replace the time spent involved in training? I have started to become a better cook.
Are you most likely to be a hunk, chunk, drunk or sasquatch when the pandemic ends? Hunk. I believe I’m in the best shape of my life right now.
What is the worst habit you have picked up during the pandemic? The first couple of weeks I started sleeping in more because I had more time on my hands but I very quickly squashed that.
What is the best habit you have picked up during the pandemic? The ability not to be afraid to cook something different.
What is something good you have discovered during the pandemic? I have discovered new provincial parks and trails that I would have never thought to go on.
What is something bad about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? It is very easy to be lazy.