Academy: Ticking over during COVID-19

Ash Wilson

With football throughout Australia suspended, the hard work hasn’t stopped in the Jets Academy.

When the decision was taken in March to suspend the NPL NSW Men’s and Women’s seasons due to the developing COVID-19 pandemic, those behind the scenes went to work to ensure the next generation kept their minds and bodies sharp during uncertain times.

Fitness programs were drawn up for our young players in tandem by Academy Technical Director, Craig Deans and Hyundai A-League Strength and Conditioning Coach, Brice Johnson.

The Club’s nine Academy coaches, who are responsible for the development of more than 160 youngsters, have been using Zoom to communicate football-based training plans regularly and keep the players motivated.

“Using digital platforms to stay connected as a team has been good from a mental health point of view, just giving the players the ability to interact regularly with their coach and teammates,” Craig Deans said.

“It’s obviously a new experience for the players and coaches, so adapting to how to best deal with it wasn’t easy initially.

academy kids

“The message to the players at the moment has been quite simple really, use the time to work on individual fitness and make sure when we get the go-ahead to return to training and games, you’re able to work at as high a level as possible.”

Of course, it’s not just the Club’s Academy sides have stopped – football throughout the country has been brought a standstill, even at the highest level.

While the Westfield W-League is in the off-season with many of our players plying their trade in the NPL NSW competition, the Hyundai A-League is on hiatus.

This hasn’t prevented our senior players from lending a hand where they can though, with captains from each side dropping in to lend their advice where they can.

Gema Simon, Cassidy Davis, Nicki Flannery and Renee Pountney from our women’s squad, along with Nigel Boogaard, Roy O’Donovan, and Glen Moss from our men’s squad have joined a number of our young teams on Zoom to give their tips on how to keep things ticking over during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hyundai A-League Head Coach, Carl Robinson and Senior Technical Director, Kenny Miller have also lent a hand via video call, as has Football Operations Manager, Joel Griffiths.

zoom meeting

In a teleconference with the goalkeepers of the Academy last week, Glen Moss imparted as much knowledge as he could while chatting through his career.

“I really enjoyed chatting to our young ‘keepers and they had some really good questions. We discussed how things were different for me growing up as there was no professional pathway or academy system,” Moss said.

“They were interested in my career highlights and if I was nervous playing against countries like Brazil, Italy, or Spain. They were also very keen on how to improve their diets, injury prevention, and leadership skills.

“As professional players, it’s so important for us to be available and support the next generation. Hopefully, I’ve been able to give them some motivation until football resumes for us all.”