FFA’s High Performance Coordinator Andrew Clark has given an insight how Australian players are coping abroad during the COVID-19 crisis.
The football world has been thrown into chaos in recent months with leagues around the globe postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And many Australian players have been caught up in the drama.
Clark, who is part of the Socceroos and Australian U-23 coaching staff, has been in contact with many of those footballers who are in a variety of different circumstances at various clubs.
Speaking with socceroos.com.au, Clark spoke about what he and some of the national team coaching staff are doing to support the players overseas.
“Australian football is in a unique position where we’re constantly in touch with players in every single corner of the planet and as this drama unfolds, the stories in each of those corners of the planet are completely different,” Clark said.
“We needed to assess exactly what the conditions are like in the location they are at, be that in the UK, Italy, continental Europe, or some of the Matildas girls in America…and discuss the sort of restrictions they are facing, whether they are being supported by their clubs, where we can fit into that piece of the puzzle and offer any assistance across health and wellbeing, football conditioning support, logistic support and just basic support for the players.
“It’s very wide the areas we are trying to support the players at the moment and the solution in each location is very unique.”
One of the players Clark has been in constant contact with is Australia U-23 international Gabriel Cleur, who plays for Italian Serie B side Virtus Entella.
Italy is one of the nation’s hit hardest by COVID-19, with the country in strict lockdown as they try to prevent the spread of the disease.
Clark’s challenge has been trying to find away to keep up the players fitness levels – as well as their spirits – in the most challenging of situations.
“Speaking to Gabby, they are at the highest level of restrictions and he can’t move outside of about a 200m radius from his house,” Clark explained.
“So we have to find solutions to help him. He’s no different to any other players like Brandon O’Neill or Adam Taggart, who have travelled and been stuck in Australia and now back in Korea, we’re looking at providing programs that suit their environment.
“The prescription of those programs not only has a physical benefit in making sure that for however long this period goes on that the players are trying to maintain some sort of football physical-based conditioning level to ensure their safety when they finally return to the park.
“But it’s also just for an individual’s mental health and I think this ties into the community at large, that to be able to achieve some sort of physical activity in significantly different situations is a really important part of our lives.
“The solutions for these players, whilst they are so different, the reason we’re all doing it, whether you’re a child being kept home from school or a Matilda or Socceroo, are very similar.”
Clark said every player he had been in contact with was in good spirits and had been making the most of the difficult situation.
But as tighter lockdown restrictions begin to come in place in Australia, Clark stressed the importance of everyone being able to do some sort of physical activity to help deal with the situation.
“With the FFA we’re going to work very hard to put together physical activity guidelines to a population of around two million Australians who are engaged in football and absolutely love the game,” Clark said.
“I’m sure those numbers go well beyond that as well. We can seek to inspire people to continue to be active and it’s going to help all other areas of their life while they are trying to get through this period.
“While we do that, we’re going to be healthier during that period and when we pop out on the other side of this we’re going to be in a far better positions, whether you are a professional player playing in the Premier League, for the Socceroos, for the Matildas or a junior player at Balmain Football Club in your local competition.
“We all have a responsibility to take good advice and be inspired to remain physically active during this period.”