The SUANFC NEAFL team were raring to go and ready to hit the field to kick off another season before the world was hit by COVID-19, a pandemic that would change how we all live our lives. Suddenly, the country was sent into isolation with stay at home orders needing to be followed. With gyms shutting, the training grounds closed, and the season postponed, the real question and challenge was, how will the team continue to train and maintain their team connection, all while obeying the social distancing requirements.
Players have been doing all the things they know to do, completing gym programs in the comfort of their homes or in the park, and maintaining their fitness by completing regular runs; however undoubtedly the motivation that can only be found in the team training environment was missing as was the camaraderie that players feel when they meet for each training session. Head Coach, Tom Morrison, has been working hard to ensure the team meet constantly, virtually of course, to maintain some semblance of regularity and connection. The team’s strength and conditioning coach, Shane Ball, has also been working overtime to make sure that the players had access to training programs, and including challenges in order to keep the plan interesting and the players motivated. However, the teamwork that is shown on the field during training and on each game-day was still missing. After 5 weeks of social distancing and isolation, Lindsay Scown, SUANFC NEAFL Senior Assistant Coach- Development, came up with a way to challenge the players and give them an opportunity to work as a team to achieve an end goal, the MCG Run Challenge: “I thought the challenge would be a good way for the boys to still connect and work towards a common goal, albeit remotely. Obviously for all sporting teams at the moment, the physical interaction piece is not there like it normally is, so we are all trying to find different ways to energise and motivate the group and having the added benefit of staying fit at the same time.” The challenge was simple; Run from Sydney Uni to the MCG in 7days, a total of 862km. The players were required to post their daily runs to the group, and then all their runs were collated to track the total distance. The players had 7 days to log all their runs, with the hope that as a team they would be able to achieve the desired distance of 862km and make it to the MCG.
For seven days, players put in the hard work, completing runs and posting them, motivating each other to continue to post runs to increase the total km’s. The team worked together, and within 7 days clocked a total of 901.5km, well and truly exceeding their challenge amount and making it past the MCG. Players and coaches a like took part in the challenge, banding together to prove the SUANFC NEAFL team are a close-knit bunch who are able to work together to overcome any challenge. Head Coach, Tom Morrison, was extremely proud of the players efforts; “Well done guys, a terrific effort. Some did some extra heavy lifting but that’s going to be the case across a match and a season in a team sport. We overcame the challenge, so well done on your efforts!”
The SUANFC NEAFL team are facing the same challenge as every sporting team across Australia, but by sticking together, working together and ensuring the team continues to virtually connect and check in on each other, there is no doubt the team will come out of this even stronger ready to take on the next challenge.