With Football Victoria suspending its season until at least April 14, the Goulburn Valley Suns are asking their young pupils to take their learning into their own hands.
The continued impact of Covid-19 will mean the Suns cannot train as a group for the next two weeks — likely much longer once that suspension is reviewed — but an extensive training program distributed to all players will look to keep the talents sharp.
Technical director Billy Marshall said the club's juniors had put in a body of work through pre-season and their opening matches and he would hate to see that effort go to waste.
“It's obviously really tough at the moment, we'd worked so hard to get to where we're at before everything happened,” Marshall said.
“But at the same time, it's so important we all do the right thing, everyone's health is so much more important than a season of soccer, we'll all bounce back.
“The worst thing that could happen at this time for their games would be to just hide in their bedroom and play their Play Stations, we can't have that.”
Marshall said the training program was nothing intense, but rather designed to keep the youngsters active — and his community spirit means the program is available to all, published on the GV Suns’ Facebook page.
“It's nothing amazing, but it will keep the players occupied for a couple of months and stay fit. There's some fitness, some strength and conditioning and some skill work, we really want the boys to keep their skill up, their touch, passing and all-round game,” he said.
“The idea behind it for me is we just don't know how long it will be, maybe we're training together next week, or maybe it's three or four months.
“We just need to put something out, and that's not just for our club, I'm from London, but I'm really into the culture of the country and regional town and it's really just about trying to look after everyone in the region.”
On the club's senior side, Marshall poured praise on the foreign players, all of who have opted to remain in Australia rather than head home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They've been really good though, they've stayed, they want to stick around and wait and see what happens,” he said.
“We met with them and said as a club we would not stand in their way if they don't feel like they can stay, but they effectively said ‘no, we've made a promise to (senior coach) Craig (Carley), we want to stay and try and have a successful season'.
“It's hard for me; I love my family back home, obviously I've got family here too now, but for those guys staying, they've got no-one here really, just the club really.
“I think that's where we're a little different to the Melbourne clubs, the club culture is really there to make sure they're okay and I think that's why they'd want to stay.”