Fans Players

Home is where the health is

AFLPA delegate and Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas is currently in a period of self-isolation as the South Australian goverment puts in measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Jonas has penned a column for to detail how the last week has panned out for him and his football club.

I’m currently sitting on the deck at my family’s shack on the Murray River.

I’m in self-isolation for 14 days after South Australian government regulations came into force prior to our return from our round one win on the Gold Coast.

The last month, let alone the last 48 hours, have been an absolute rollercoaster; with the landscape shifting by the hour.

Just a week ago we were champing at the bit to start the AFL season, provided it was deemed safe for the players and wider society to do so.

At the end of the day footy is the least important of the important things in life (I stole that from coach Ken Hinkley).

So if things escalated, which they obviously have, we have a duty to ourselves, friends, family and the entire country to put health and safety first.

It was a different lead up to round one, not knowing whether the game would actually go ahead, and we also spent far less time at our Alberton training base.

All of the staff and coaches made it as seamless as possible, and the playing group really embraced the challenge (which was helped by having much more time to get on the golf course!)

Naturally we took extra precautions to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19.

All meetings were over Skype, we went to the club in small groups to complete weights and medicals; recovery was at the beach and we took our own ‘footys’ home for extra craft work (skills).

For the Gold Coast we enforced individualised drink bottles, hand sanitiser was available to us at all times, we were checked into a chartered flight (which was a nice treat), heavy social distancing restrictions were enacted and we had regular temperature checks from the club doctors.

The game was odd in itself.

Not so much the actual footy, but things like not being able to shake hands with your opponent after tackling them to the ground minutes earlier, or not to stand arm in arm singing the team song after embracing the same teammate for kicking his first AFL goal.

Not to mention playing in front of no crowd.  At least we could hear what everyone was saying, and they could hear me.

Our group adjusted to this impressively by driving our internal energy and focusing on executing the processes we had been training for the last four months.

For us it wouldn’t have mattered who, where or when we played, we were ready.

It’s disappointing that the season has been suspended indefinitely, but certainly not a surprise.

I feel for fans of the game, those that have paid memberships and the kids that will miss out on watching their favourite players run around, and not to be able to run around at junior level themselves.

It’s also a nervous and stressful time with uncertainties about contracts and pay, but we know it’s an issue everyone is experiencing, and we are certainly luckier than most.

But as I alluded too earlier, safety is paramount, and with everything going on it was certainly the right decision.

I think it’s vital we follow the government guidelines and get on top of this virus.

The sooner we do that, the sooner we can get back to normality, and the sooner we can start playing footy again, which will allow the fans to come and watch!

For the next 14 days I’ll be on the banks of the Murray, just me and the dog.

I’ve got plenty of provisions, some university work, a bench press, a couple of dumbbells, an old Sherrin and plenty of space to do my running.

I’m using this opportunity to get fitter, stronger, do some personal development and get a mental break – no waterskiing obviously!

It’s a tough time for all but I know the Aussie spirit will shine bright as it did over summer.

We’ll come out of it better than ever, with a bigger game, as better players and better people.

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you at Adelaide Oval soon.