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Demi Stokes: England defender on health, cooking and helping others during coronavirus lockdown

England and Man City defender tells Sky Sports News' Jessica Creighton about her physical and mental workouts and helping others during coronavirus lockdown

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England Women winger Demi Stokes says she is excited by the prospect of playing the Olympics, European Championships and World Cup in the space of three years.

With the sheer number of delays and cancellations of sporting events around the world, many sportspeople are unable to do what they love.

Unprecedented times these may be, but England footballer Demi Stokes has been here before.

A hip injury in 2018 meant she had to endure eight months away from football - her longest spell not playing.

Bethany England of Chelsea and Demi Stokes of Manchester City in action during the FA Women's Super League
Image: Chelsea's Bethany England and Man City's Stokes during the FA Women's Super League match

"That injury was good for me," she tells Sky Sports News. "I learned what my body needs, what my body doesn't need and the importance of looking after yourself."

With no clear indication of when the Women's Super League season might return, it is that injury experience that is helping her through this tough time.

"This is a big discipline test," says the England and Manchester City defender.

"You're on your own, you're bored and the first thing you probably think is: let's get the ball out, let's go on a run, let's go and do weights. And you can't. You've got to give your body what it needs at the right time and not overload it with too many things."

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But then come the dreaded rest days.

The WSL's first Manchester derby was played at the Etihad Stadium this season
Image: The WSL's first Manchester derby was played at the Etihad Stadium this season

"It's probably what I struggle with, because you're not allowed to train," Stokes explains. "It is hard when you're on your rest days and thinking what can I do?

"It's about finding the right balance so you're still training and ticking over but not overtraining. You can still learn and train your mind and not have to do anything physical."

Stokes' mental 'workouts' so far have consisted of gardening, tidying the shed and her first love: cooking.

What's been on the menu so far? "Thai red curry with salmon. Jerk chicken, rice and peas. I try and mix it up so I don't get bored. I've made pizza! Just something new to try and keep your mind occupied."

Stokes is part of the group of England Women players who decided to make a charitable donation to the NHS to help fight coronavirus and she says helping others during this time is important to her.

Angela Sosa #7 of Atletico de Madrid is defended by Demi Stokes #3 of Manchester City

"I've got a next-door neighbour, Rosemary. I've been cooking for her and leaving it on her back doorstep. I took the [garden] fence panel out so she can see me and just say hi. You can see the difference in her wellbeing just because she's seen someone, it makes a difference.

"Rosemary wanted to work out so I was in my garden, she was in hers and talking her through what she can do. Checking up on friends and family - that's what kept me going, making sure that people are all right."

And it is not just her neighbours - Stokes has seen first-hand the impact this crisis is having on those working in the thick of it. Her partner is a physiotherapy assistant.

"She's going to patients' houses and having to check if they have it (coronavirus) or symptoms of it. Also helping the elderly get in and out of bed.

"It is stressful and you do worry - worry that she could catch it or bring it home. That's why it's important that I stay indoors. But they've got the equipment that they need. The main thing is they're helping other people and people are recovering from it.

"It's amazing what [NHS staff] are doing. They're putting their families, themselves at risk. What they're doing for the country, they are heroes.

"My partner is NHS, to see it first-hand you can see how stressed they are. She comes in, takes her uniform off, gets it washed quickly, showers. To see that side of it is intense."

Stokes' passion for helping others has also extended to her fans, which has seen her post fitness challenges on her Instagram account.

She says: "That keeps you occupied. It's just a bit of fun to take away from the seriousness of things. If it can make people's day a bit better or make them feel a bit better than why not?"

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