Since the outbreak of Covid-19, many people have been longing for the return of sport. As much fun as it is to watch highlights of glory days or to become obsessed with Formula 1 having watched F1: Drive to Survive, there is nothing quite like watching the thrills and spills of live sport. While fans were eagerly anticipating the return of big competitions such as the Premier League, Champions League, and Guinness Pro14, athletes around the world have been dying for the chance to get back out there. None more so than Trinity students whose seasons were cut short back in March and did not get the luxury of completing them over the summer. Ahead of the new academic year, Frannie Smith, captain of Trinity Women’s Soccer, talked us through her experience of training throughout the pandemic.
“While those participating in solo sports, such as athletics or golf, could work on technique during the various levels of lockdown, it is certainly much more difficult to train for a team sport as individuals.”
“I think everyone who is used to playing sports through the spring and during the summer, especially collegiate athletes, have definitely felt the impact from Covid-19,” explained Smith, “Personally, it completely changed my sense of normalcy, in that I wasn’t training with the team or going to a gym regularly.” While those participating in solo sports, such as athletics or golf, could work on technique during the various levels of lockdown, it is certainly much more difficult to train for a team sport as individuals.
While each member can maintain their own fitness and skills, that sense of team cohesion and bonding is likely to suffer. But for the Women’s Soccer team, constant communication from their coaches has helped to bolster morale and keep everybody on the same page. “Our coaches have been really great over the course of the pandemic, especially with a lot of the team in different parts of the world.” praises Smith, lauding the impressive job done by coaches Dan Hobbs and Adam Rochford. “Adam is really great about giving us fitness plans to stick to which have been so great and give us all a good structure to go off of. I’ve also been doing a lot of training myself, mainly trying to keep it outdoors to remind myself what fresh air is like!”
While the team was disappointed not to finish their season, especially given their excellent form, all thoughts have turned to next year as they attempt to navigate the ever-changing restrictions. At the time we spoke, the current advice from the Government is that outdoor groups should not exceed 15 people, a drastic reduction that has already seen clubs around the country divide squads into smaller groups to adhere to the policy. The restrictions have become more severe now as Dublin has moved back into Level 3, meaning no indoor gatherings can take place and no longer will sport clubs be able to train or compete. However, Smith is optimistic that they will be able to adapt to the new guidelines. “We think it will be doable as we are an outdoor sport so we have more space to work with which is handy. We also have always booked slots for two hour training sessions, which will definitely work in our favor if we need to split the team up over the two hours.”
While this situation would certainly suit the Government’s new regulations, it is yet to be seen how the College will regulate training sessions both on the pitch or in the gym. The most recent correspondence from Trinity Sport says that students can book one hour slots in the Sports Centre once per day, and that there will be no changing room facilities. It is currently unclear how this will impact team training sessions, not just for Women’s Soccer but for all of Trinity’s other sports teams.
“This lack of communication is not limited to training facilities, as there had been no confirmation from the College of any details for the upcoming 2020/21 season.”
This lack of communication is not limited to training facilities, as there had been no confirmation from the College of any details for the upcoming 2020/21 season at the time we spoke. “[It] does make me a bit nervous,” admits Smith, “but it’s completely understandable as the Covid-19 situation changes daily.” Despite these worries, Smith cannot wait to get back on the pitch, in any capacity. “I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to get back to regularly scheduled practices and see the team again,” she exclaimed. “I think it’s really giving everyone a silver lining to look to right now, and I know I’ve been looking forward to it since we ended last season.”