Like millions of Americans, Luis Robles has been largely confined to his home, unable to carry out his day job — in his case keeping the ball out of the net for expansion MLS side Inter Miami CF —since the coronavirus pandemic began taking its toll on communities across the United States. But the 35-year-old, who has spent 13 years traveling far and wide as a professional, is trying to focus on the positives and getting to enjoy some rare extended family time.
“I have been able to spend a lot of quality time with my family," he said during a phone call with MLSsoccer.com on Monday. "Yesterday was a big day in our household. My eldest daughter learned how to ride a two-wheeler for the first time. We had some bumps and some bruises but she survived and we celebrated with some ice cream. We’re making the best of it. It’s not ideal circumstances but it is what it is.”
A similar sentiment has been shared by many including by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who has spoken about using this time to build connections with his own daughter. For seven years, Robles called New York home as he represented the New York Red Bulls, becoming a fan favorite, team leader and helping the club to three Supporters' Shields. And Robles had some words for the residents of his former home, where the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has soared in recent days.
“It’s one of those situations where hopefully everyone can be in together and understand what’s at risk here," he said. "If they can come together and abide by what the lawmakers are saying, I think they are going to better off.”
Robles left New York to take on a new challenge with Inter Miami in December. And, despite a completely new group of players only getting to play two games before the MLS season was suspended earlier this months, Robles reassures that “La Familia,” as the club likes to call itself, are well and in constant communication.
“There’s a few different group chats," he said. "One that includes the medical staff because they check in with us each day, asking us to take our temperature and we have to submit that. And there’s just another ongoing group chat with everyone and as I’m talking right now my phone just keeps buzzing because the guys are just bantering about.”
While spirits are high, Robles acknowledged that players are having to get creative with how they are staying in shape.
“It’s tough because we have a training regimen and in the beginning, we could go to the park and do it, but now all the parks are shut down," he said. "So everyone is asking ‘Has anyone found any green space?’ So that they’re not running on cement every day.”
Named the club's first-ever captain ahead of the season, Robles also approved of a move Inter Miami made to further encourage social distancing among their already sizable group of supporters, by separating the two Herons on the club's logo.
These are unprecedented times, so we want to raise awareness by altering the club’s logo and separating the white herons, which are normally interlocked representing unity in our community, across our digital platforms to encourage social distancing » https://t.co/2njd1ncV36 pic.twitter.com/7MPtDXFHan— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) March 23, 2020
It is not just his new club that Robles has been embracing since he moved down to South Florida. While the veteran goalkeeper is staying healthy and in shape during the MLS suspension, Robles revealed he has a new favorite show that he and his family have been tuning into during his downtime.
“When we came down here, everyone was talking about this show 'Gator Boys.’ We started watching it and it’s great," he said. "These characters are amazing. We just wanted our kids to understand the risks and the dangers of some of the wildlife, especially alligators.”
Robles has already had his first personal encounter with a gator, recently sharing some footage on his Instagram feed of a gator he and teammate Lee Nguyen spotted in his backyard.
“But then yesterday, the main character of ‘Gator Boys’ was in front of my house,” Robles continued. “My son came running in saying ‘daddy, daddy the guy from Gator Boys is out there.’ So I walk out there, and it’s him! It’s Paul! So we got to chatting and I invited him out to a game and hopefully he accepts the invitation. He’s part of the South Florida community and we want all of our residents and citizens of South Florida to be fans of Inter Miami.”
It will be May 10 before MLS is set to return to action and the reality TV star is able accept Robles’ invite. In the meantime, Robles had a clear message toward ensuring that life returns to normal as soon as possible
“We’re in uncharted territory and everyone is doing the best that they can but the most important thing is that everyone understands that this is bigger than soccer and eventually life will get back to normal but in the meantime we have to think about our entire community as a whole. The best way we can do that is implementing some of the safeguards that our officials are providing us with.”