K rock Football

Smith says mental health crucial

Werribee Centrals coach Nick Smith speaks to his players during the first semi-final win over Inverleigh. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

WERRIBEE Centrals coach Nick Smith says maintaining a player’s mental health is just as important as their physical fitness during the 10-week shutdown of local football.

GDFL clubs are among the majority across Victoria that won’t play, train or host mass gatherings until at least May 31, and Smith said the challenge is now for clubs to stay connected with their players.

“Just having that pulled out from under you is something we’re concerned about, in terms of how do you keep guys engaged and interested and motivated,” Smith said.

“I saw ‘Buck’ (Inverleigh coach Adam Donohue) talking about how you get them to train – and we’re going to try and work our way through that, too.

“But, we’re concerned about mental wellbeing, too, and how do they stay connected to each other, and making sure you don’t lose some of that connection we’ve been building over the last couple of years.”

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Smith said he and co-coach Rhyce Prismall had already started conversations around putting plans in place.

“We really want to target a couple of things,” Smith said.

“One is to try and maintain your fitness as best you can within the current situation, which, of course, depending on who you are and what you’ve got at home, that could be as simple as body-weight exercises.

“Some people are not even wanting to go for runs or rides, and unless you’ve got a pool at home, there’s no swimming anymore.

“So even stuff you might have defaulted to that’s outside of footy is quite hard to do.

“And my experience tells me you can set people all the programs you want, (but) it doesn’t mean they’ll actually do them.”

“And the other one is trying to plan a few social gatherings before they’re totally banned.

“We’re trying to plan something for what would have been Round 1 so you can just get together and tell each other how good you would have been that day. ”

Smith has also backed Donhue’s calls for a chance to train for at least a fortnight before matches resume, which would allow for an 11-game season where each club plays the others once.

“My understanding is that there’s not that much room to push the season back because of cricket,” he said.

“Once you get beyond that May 31 date then you’re talking about not just a modified season, but an unevenly modified season where there might be some teams that you don’t actually play.

“I don’t like the idea of that, but I guess most people at the moment would just say any footy is better than no footy.”

Twitter: @tom_king79