HATHERLEIGH has taken a simple approach to the unexpected break before the start of the 2020 Mid South East Football League season.
Due to COVID-19, the competition scheduled to begin on April 4 faces an uncertain future.
With no return date in mind, Eagles A Grade coach Gerard McGrath said he has not placed much pressure on his team during the quiet period.
“Initially when they postponed the season, I thought we should forget about it for a while because I did not see the point to train for no reason,” he said.
“I was worried there would be a bit of burn out, so we did not do anything for the first month.
“Now we have just started doing a few challenges at home through social media to get everyone motivated again.”
Hatherleigh’s online challenges require the men to use team work to achieve a particular goal such as a collective figure of kilograms or kilometres.
This follows a short, but intense pre-season for the Eagles.
Due to several players being tied up with work commitments, Hatherleigh did not start its campaign until the early weeks of January.
But McGrath said he was satisfied with the progress.
“There are a few farmers in our team who are always busy in December and find it hard to get out to training, so we gave everyone a good break,” he said.
“We started training two nights a week and did a lot of running.
“We were getting into some serious ball work before everything was pulled from underneath us.
“The season was looking promising.”
Over the summer, the Eagles swooped in on the trade table and landed a couple of new recruits into their nest.
“Jake Dowdy from Mount Burr has signed on as my assistant coach,” McGrath said.
“Coming from a successful club he has been really good and is fit and motivated.
“Jordan Galpin has come over from Penola.
“He is a fit guy and a good footballer.
“Darcy Bateman has moved from Adelaide and Jed Telfer has returned from university.”
When the announcement surfaced to suspend all football actively, McGrath said the group felt slightly aggrieved, but can see the plus side of the situation.
“They were all disappointed, especially the young guys,” he said.
“As a coach it is pretty frustrating because you spend a lot of time planning things like meetings and catch ups and suddenly nothing really comes from all that hard work.
“But on the plus side my wife and I have had a lot more time at home with our two boys which has been nice.”
With time running out to complete a full home and away season, McGrath believes the football community must shrink on-field activity.
“You just have to condense the program a lot more,” he said.
“Instead of having a 10 or 12 week pre-season, you end up with something around two weeks or a month, so training sessions might be a bit longer to make sure everyone is ready to go.
“I say each team plays each other once in the season, so you can’t afford any slip ups.
“One or two losses could be vital to missing the finals.”