Barnard: Players back fit and healthy

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 11:48 AM by Katie de Haer

East Perth league coach Jeremy Barnard has confirmed his players returned fit and healthy to training at Leederville Oval this week.

As part of the State Government’s roadmap to recovery, sporting clubs were able to begin non-contact training in groups of 20 from Monday.

“It’s great to be back into some formal training,” Barnard told SportFM on Wednesday.

“It’s been nearly three months. The guys were pretty toey (to get started). 

The restrictions were in line with council regulations. We had two groups on Leederville Oval and ran two sessions – one session at 4.30pm and one session at 6.00pm with a half hour cross over.

“We split the ground in two.”

Barnard said that despite the logistical challenges, players and coaches adapted well to the new training guidelines.

“It was pretty easy to manage and the two sessions made it a lot easier,” he said.

“We had different start times and arrival positions and exit positions. There was a bit of logistical stuff involved, but other than that, it was great to be back into footy.”

The WAFC is part of a national working group that includes the AFL and other state football bodies. Despite no official return-to-play date, Barnard said the club was confident of a return sometime in July.

“It’s moved quite quickly, from having severe restrictions to now training in groups of 20,” he said.

“If the community stays well and stays healthy, we’re very confident we’ll be training in larger groups within a month, and we’ll be back to footy soon after that.”

Barnard said he was pleased with the progress of players, who have been training away from the club since the WAFL season was postponed on March 16, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Strength and Conditioning department have done a great job in monitoring the playing group,” he said.

“Everyone has come back fit and healthy.”

With a shortened season likely and a condensed second mini pre-season, Barnard said the club would be taking a cautious approach to prevent injuries.

“Developing the program, I was super stressed out about injuries, because with a shortened season and a shortened (second) pre-season, if you pop your hamstring badly, you may as well pack your boots up for the year.

“We’re going to take a really cautious approach in the first two weeks and bring them back slowly.

“While they are fit and strong, it’s that different movement and kicking the ball while under stress that’s going to put your muscles under different fatigue.

“We’ll make sure they’re acclimatised and then we’ll ramp them up pretty quick.”

With the WA State border closed and the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers set to relocate to the Gold Coast for the short term, Barnard said it presented an exciting opportunity to bring new audiences to the WAFL.

“If the WAFL does start and there is no local AFL football, then people will come and watch it.

“People will be drawn to local footy again and hopefully they’ll be able to join in the great competition the WAFL is.”