For Leroy Jennings, having relocated to Wollongong to play for the Wollongong Wolves, his teammates are like a family, and while for the past few weeks the focus has been on the finals race, his focus has now shifted to keeping a sharp mind throughout the current stay-at-home restrictions.
Like many other athletes, Jennings is using fitness and exercise as a way to keep a clear mind in what can be a challenging time of isolation.
“There’s not much you can do except just road running I guess, you know going down to the park and kicking a ball around,” he explained.
“There are no gyms open and obviously we’re not allowed to train, but more so just going out and doing something for your mind otherwise you’re just stuck at home and you kind of go insane.”
Aware of the impact that the lockdown is having on himself, especially being isolated from his family and friends, Jennings emphasised the importance of his football family in maintaining a healthy mental state throughout the next few weeks.
“It’s tough for everybody, but for us boys that moved down here away from our families and friends, the team is kind of like our family because they’re the people we see the most throughout the week and for that to kind of come to a halt, when that’s what you’re here for, you really have to make sure that you keep your spirits up and keep your mind healthy by going out and doing that type of stuff, even if it’s not just for fitness, just to keep your mind sharp.
“We’ve seen it before in our league with players and in sports in general with guys that you just wouldn’t think they’re not ok, but there’s a different story to everybody so you just have to really look out for yourself and for your teammates.”
While training has come to a halt, the camaraderie between the team certainly hasn’t, with plenty of entertainment coming from the team’s group chat.
“There’s always going to be banter in the group chat no matter what, but you don’t have the change room banter, so you have to make up for it in the group chat.”
Like many other football fans, the break has served as a great time for Jennings to immerse himself in the excitement of the Euro 2020 tournament.
“My sleeping pattern has been ruined from the Euros but I’m not complaining, it’s like Christmas watching football every day, especially with the teams that are in the tournament and the players, you love to watch it.”
“Italy, they’re going all the way, no doubt about it. To think that both France and Portugal are out is mind-boggling but that’s why we love football, nothing is given.”
Just two points out of the top five at this stage in the season, and still in the running for the Waratah Cup and FFA Cup, the Wollongong Wolves have plenty to fight for when football returns and Jennings is eager to get back on the pitch and make his mark.
“Getting back to football is the main goal right now.”
“First and foremost, our goal is to make the finals, that’s what we train towards every day. I think the Waratah Cup, we hope it can restart because that’s a great chance for us to get a trophy – there are five teams left and we know that it’s just three wins and it’s a trophy.”
-By Madeline Riley