It’s been a month since we returned to training following the isolation and lock-down of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extensive work by Football Victoria paved the way for the structured return to training with a set of guidelines developed in accordance with the medical advice of the Chief Health Officer and Sport and Recreation Victoria.

The club worked in conjunction with Lakeside Stadium to establish protocols to comply with the requirements which over the last four weeks have become just part of the routine.

That first night on Thursday May 21st saw two groups of ten players, split fifteen minutes apart, file through the gates at Lakeside Stadium following temperature checks and health screening. Under the watchful eye of Team Manager Kris Peladarinos, the players experienced the pouring rain and eased back into training with a sixty minute session directed by Senior Coach Esteban Quintas.

As a state government Stadium, there were additional measures the Lakeside Duty Managers were responsible for and the preparations made by Football Director Andrew Mesourouni laid the foundation for a successful reintroduction to football.

Team Manager Kris Peladarinos said “that first night back was obviously a bit of an adjustment but the effort and planning with Andrew and Kon meant we were ready to go.”

“I had reinforced with the players in the lead up to that Thursday night what the requirements were and what they could expect. There were a lot of reminders and initially the players took a few sessions to adjust to the changes, but now they’ve gotten used to it all.”

A lot has happened in the last four weeks both on and off the pitch. Behind the scenes consultation with clubs and Football Victoria has culminated in the season structure being finalised and a start date of Saturday 25th July.

“It is very encouraging we now have a start date to work towards. The further easing of restrictions means as of today we have access to the change rooms. It is a small but significant step in getting the team back into their regular routine. Things such as the physio benches, the equipment, the whiteboards and the TV for video analysis will help bring back the mindset for competitive football” Peladarinos said.

An eight team finals series beckons featuring home and away fixtures for the first time in the NPL era. Club President Nicholas Maikousis continues to work behind the scenes with Football Victoria and other club presidents to schedule the remaining matches in the 2020 season.