As the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition takes a break to comply with the New South Wales government stay-at-home orders, it’s basically business as usual for the league’s leading goal-scorer Patrick Antelmi, just without the goals.
Speaking about the season so far for Sydney United 58, Antlemi explained that while he is happy with their performance in 2021, he thinks they should be comfortably sitting at the top of the table, surprisingly taking a lot of the blame for not seizing every opportunity for points, even after netting 14 goals so far this season.
Despite leading the race for the golden boot, Antelmi has an incredible team-first attitude that is surely part of the reason the Sydney United outfit have been so strong across the entire field this season.
“This year I’m having a lot of fun and enjoying myself,” he explained.
“A few games haven’t gone our way and there were a few games when we didn’t bury our chances when we should have, which is partly my fault.”
“As a team, I can’t fault the boys at all, all of them put in 110 per cent. The best thing is the change room environment that we have… honestly without them I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing”
While grateful for continuing to work through the restrictions, the Sydney United striker was disappointed that the timing fractured the momentum his team were building heading into finals football, however, he highlighted that there are more important things than football during these challenging times.
“Of course, it’s quite annoying that football has to be on a pause at the moment, but I know that these two weeks are probably the only two weeks that we have to wait until we get back,” he said.
“I think outside of football is more important in terms of mindset and mental health…I think if I was struggling it would be different.”
“I used to go through tough times and think that you just have to suck it up and keep going, to a certain degree that’s true but in other aspects, it’s where you need to go find help. You have to go speak to people that are the closest to you, so whether that’s family, whether that’s one of your best mates, just pick up the phone and say ‘hey, I need to have a chat.’”
“With mental health, us athletes and coaches, the whole league, we’re quite blessed to be in a football community where everyone knows everyone, everyone is quite close and if there are people who are struggling you can just call someone in your football team, your coach or whoever it is.
“It’s just a matter of, I guess, putting your pride down and to stop thinking that you can do it by yourself because sometimes you just can’t, especially when the load is quite heavy.
“Honestly, the best thing would be just reaching out to loved ones or people who are close to you, and if you can’t go to them then turn to the people you share the dressing room with.”
Looking forward to the remainder of the season post-lockdown, Antlemi has high ambitions for his team, but more importantly for the tight-knit club.
“If you’re not part of the Club I don’t think you’ll really understand how much the community has an impact on the Club and makes it more of a family than anything else, so that’s the biggest thing, obviously bringing back a title with the boys.
“If I do finish up being top goal scorer that’s just a bonus really because at the end of the day if the boys aren’t doing their job starting from the keeper, the ball doesn’t get to me, so I have to give a lot of credit to the boys that keep clean sheets, and the midfielders that do all the hard work, and then, of course, I’ve got my striker partner Chris Payne who has been setting me up quite a bit this year.”
-By Madeline Riley