Major boost kicks in as footballers plan overdue return
AS someone counting his lucky stars, Ipswich Knights coach Andy Ogden shares the growing enthusiasm for the return of many sports.
He's watched his footballers follow the rules and respect the non-contact guidelines as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
"It's been a little bit frustrating not being able to do what you want to do,'' the master coach said. "We've just abided by what they've said.''
That included separating his first team squad from the club's under-20 and under-18 players which often work together.
"It's been just movement drills, passing drills, some fitness as we need that,'' Ogden said.
However, with non-contact procedures being relaxed from today, Ogden expects his players to receive a major boost looking to restart the Football Queensland Premier League (FQPL) competition.
"Everyone has come back really, really well,'' he said, having been able to conduct controlled training sessions at Bundamba in recent weeks.
"The last few weeks, they have been getting sharper and better and getting back into the groove.''
The Knights had won two of their opening four FQPL encounters before the coronavirus shutdown in March.
Ipswich's first scheduled match back is away to the Sunshine Coast on July 26.
Ogden has secured games against the Ipswich City Bulls and Logan before the season restarts.
He is particularly pleased to give his youth players a run against the Bulls, who are looking to return in the Football Brisbane Capital League 1 competition.
"We'll both be underdone but it will good to get some kilometres under the belt,'' he said.
That match is set down for Bundamba next Friday night before the clash with Premier League counterparts Logan.
"It's not a massive preparation but we think it should be enough, especially being allowed to use five reserves for a certain amount of time,'' he said.
Under the non-contact rules, Knights coaches Bob Maclot (under-20) and Adam Maunder (under-18) kept their squads separate.
They hope to work more closely with the first-team squad in coming weeks.
Ogden has also been assisting the Knights under-13 squad.
"They are the same,'' Ogden said. "They came in. They understand they can't train as they normally would but everybody enjoyed it.''
With other sports like Aussie rules, hockey and basketball finalising competition returns, Ogden said it was just what was needed.
"It's going to be good for everybody,'' said Ogden, who is a project co-ordinator with Queensland Rail.
"I've been one of the lucky ones. I haven't missed any work.
"I thank my lucky stars.''