It’s that time of the year again. Footy’s back and roaring into action. It’s that time for you to remember to pick your weekly footy tips for your local tipping competition, and to dust off those colours of your favourite side again. However, for some, this time of the year brings a sigh of relief after a heavy workload, which is every footballer’s nightmare: pre-season training. You bust your guts for months before the opening round even begins to be the fittest, strongest side in the competition. At Latrobe University (the side I will be calling home for the next 6 months of the year), pre season training had a different scenario to hundreds of other clubs in Victoria. Our under 19’s side first begun training in our first week of school this semester, compared to the senior group which had begun at the end of last year. The point for this was many of our team members didn’t begin living in Melbourne until only February; which has given us an incredible task of trying to gel as a team in the space of 6 weeks.
The first night of training at any new club is a strange night. I’ve already done it once before and knew leading in that I would be having a very awkward hour and a half out on the track. However this wasn’t the case, the Latrobe boys went around and introduced themselves, and made me feel very welcomed to the club. I loved every part of my first night at my new home. The training drills for the first month were taken by the senior coach, Alan Ezard, a two-time premiership winning player for Essendon during the 80’s. Having someone who has played at the elite level take you through training is very rewarding for your progress in skills and the way you conduct yourself as a person. It wasn’t until the last week before the season began that our Under 19’s coach, Theo, owner of Latrobe Uni’s very own ‘Charlies’ in the Agora handled training. Theo has emphasised on the need for all of us boys to stay tight as a group, due to us all being kids from the country. He wants to see all of us enjoy our year and develop friendships and create memories lasting a lifetime. Theo is taking on our father figure, and so far he’s helping us bond together in an incredible way. Our Assistant coach, John, or better known around the club as ‘JD’, uses his knowledge of the game to help maintain our focus, and give us other alternatives in how we play the game. He’s also a bit of a joker, so he balances the role of teacher and friend really well.
It’s Friday the 8th of April and we begin our quest for the ultimate prize tomorrow down against St Johns at Dandenong’s Thomas Carroll Reserve. There’s something about the start of a new season that just makes you get goose bumps, whether that be the smell of deep heat being applied to tight muscles, or the banter that echoes throughout the change rooms. One thing is for certain: footy’s back.
By Aydin Payne