APIA Leichhardt FC’s cool and chilled defender Themba Muata-Marlow is all but over COVID-19 and what it’s done with the postponement of the leagues amongst many other things.
The 26-year-old is looking forward to returning to how life was pre-COVID-19 or as best as possible, following restrictions placed in keeping the pandemic at bay in Australia.
“Personally, this whole situation has affected me I guess more emotionally than anything which is probably how most other people would describe it.
“I’ve been living alone through it all, so it’s been really boring and frustrating at times not being able to do normal things or see friends and family.
“I was already someone who was pretty comfortable in their own company most of the time but this has all just taken it to a new level, I am really looking forward to living life the way it was, or as best as possible.”
Like many, Themba was relieved to have seen the message of teams gaining the green light in the return to training only message last week on Football NSW’s social media channels, giving him more faith that the return to competitive football is not too far behind provided the Virus does not reappear.
“For sure, every time you hear that another set of restrictions have lifted you feel a sense of relief and progression that we’re all regaining a little slice of normality again.
“Over the last few weeks or so I’ve been able to go and visit my family a lot more and of course without games and set training schedules, I’ve had more time to do things on my own.
“More recently I’ve been able to see my close friends as well so that’s been great for the moral considering everything that’s gone on but definitely looking forward to playing some kind of football in 2020 once more.”
Muata-Marlow has honed in on his inner pro gamer feels as he’s spent a considerable amount of time perfecting his skills on the box during quarantine amongst learning a bit of Spanish.
“Since football stopped and quarantine started, I’ve definitely become a pro gamer.
“There’s been lots of COD Warzone and even more FIFA 2020 but I’m getting pretty sick of the soundtrack to be honest. I find myself being able to sing all of the foreign tunes word for word now.
“I’ve also scratched the surface of starting to learn some Spanish too, since I was reciting the lyrics to the songs, I figured I should at least know what I’m saying.”
Born in Sydney to an Australian mother and a Jamaican/English father, Muata-Marlow grew up on reggae and soul music but its been English Grime and alternative Hip-Hop that has also provided a good release of energy during the self-isolation period.
“Correct, due to my father’s influence I grew up on a lot of reggae and soul music but nowadays I predominately listen to UK artists like Skepta and AJ Tracey along with a lot of alternative Hip-Hop from the U.S. really mostly chilled out vibes.”
Work wise, the big APIA marksman has been fortunate that his role relating to the building Architectural Industry has continued much to his relief.
“I have been fortunate enough to keep my job through these difficult times and I’m grateful for that.
“My work relating to the building Architectural industry hasn’t really stopped but it’s gotten quite busy at the start of lockdown to be honest.
“I guess people just had more time to upgrade things around the house.
“They’ve had us working from home for weeks now which does also become pretty boring and not as engaging as it normally would be, but I guess it is what it is in that regard.”
With plans on picking up back to back NPL NSW Men’s Championships put on hold for now, Muata-Marlow used the football lockdown as an opportunity to revitalize his body but has picked up some training sessions with a few of his close friends and teammates in getting him back to his prime once more.
“With training stopping initially I kept ticking over for a week or so but then knowing everything probably wouldn’t be back to normal for a while, I just took a few weeks off initially and took advantage of the time off just to rejuvenate the body after pre-season and a few games to start off the season.
“Over the last month I’ve been able to refocus and get going again with a new hunger having really missed being out on the pitch.
“I have engaged in training with teammates and mates, me and Kouts (Michael Kouta) have gone for a kick and a few runs over the past few weeks which had been good.
“I’ve also done a few Gym sessions with my good mates Niki Loe, who plays over at Hakoah and Brandon Lundy who I used to play with at the Newcastle Jets and APIA before he went down to Avondale FC in the NPL Victorian league.”
The cool calm and collected defender reiterated what most footballers have stressed during these periods of lockdown that it’s been the absence of being able to hang and enjoy the dressing room banter he’s missed most at APIA.
“I guess what I miss most about playing is of course the change room banter we have at APIA, it’s probably the best changeroom I’ve ever been a part of in that regard, there’s too many characters that can make you laugh it’s hard not to miss that culture.
“Things like Josh (Symons) harassing the referees every weekend, Sean (Symons)’s dire pre game speeches, Ucchino offering everyone pretzels which no one else ever takes.
“Corey (Biczo) being late to every single session, Payney asking Johnny (Calleja) if we can go home before the session starts if he hits the crossbar (never happens)
“Davey (D’Apuzzo) shouting at everyone when he’s on the losing team.
“And of course Kouta including duck in his pescatarian diet because they like the water.
“But along with that, just the competitiveness we have during sessions, particularly the little cage possession games.
“To put it simply, just the feeling of striking a ball in a game is something I will never take for granted.”