AFTER finishing 2019 as VAFA Premier B grand finalists and earning promotion up a division, the AJAX ‘Jackas’ men’s footy team were ready to rock and roll in 2020, but then came the COVID-19 outbreak, putting a halt to almost everything.
Jackas captain and newly appointed assistant coach Nick Lewis told The AJN, “It does feel quite strange that this is probably going to be the longest footy pre-season ever.
“We’d completed our usual four-week pre-season training program, and then started another month’s block of adapted training to be done solo and in pairs – and we’ll need to keep extending that,” Lewis said.
“But we’re very lucky to have such an engaged playing group.
“We set daily challenges online or on WhatsApp, where a player might say they’ve run four laps around a field in so many minutes, and then someone will try to go one better – and we alternate our training partners to mix things up.
“It keeps things fun, and I know the club’s women’s team, the Jackettes, are doing similar things, and even running things like online Pilates sessions.”
Lewis quipped, “A few of us are coming up with fictional match reports for the games we ordinarily would have played already and, of course, the Jackas win each time!”
Lewis said he is enjoying his additional role as assistant coach.
“Adam [Andrews, head coach] wanted to formalise my leadership responsibilities this season, and the role will enable me to be his eyes and ears on the field.
“It will be good to be able to provide him with that feedback.”
In terms of what may lie ahead, Lewis said, “We’ve had only limited insights from the league (VAFA), but we’re planning for a scenario where there might be a half-season possible, starting sometime in July.
“We’re holding on to that hope, because we’re all itching to play footy, and give our fans a chance to come and watch us, hot dog in hand, and enjoy a great day out.
“We’re also very keen to play at Premier B level and build on the momentum we gained from making a grand final.
“An unexpected bonus of a shortened season is that several experienced Jackas players who have been injured, like David Fayman who copped an ACL tear, are now a chance of returning in time for round one.
“As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last season – and it was a very successful one.”