Bobcats back on deck for long awaited return to training
FOOTBALL: The Maclean Bobcats will return to training tonight after Northern NSW Football gave clubs the green light from last week.
Ready for life on return to Football Far North Coast competition, Maclean got off to an electric start in the pre-season Anzac Cup before the season was interrupted by COVID-19.
But now, with NNSWF's blessing the Bobcats will reset their sights on shaking up the Lismore-based competition as a shortened season fast approaches.
Bobcats president Matt Farrell made the announcement on the Maclean FC Facebook page last Wednesday and club stalwart Grant Neilson is excited to get the season back on track.
"We're all really keen to get back into training. It will be interesting with the restrictions on numbers and contact in place but we'll use this time wisely," Neilson said.
While most players have found ways to keep fit during the enforced break, Neilson said those who took a more relaxed approach will be targeted.
"Some have been enjoying the time off more than others. There will be a fair bit of conditioning work to start but I think the group will be ready to go," he said.
"Our first grade and the majority of our reserve grade have all been keeping their fitness up a little."
Neilson will look to play his part in a temporary coaching role as training groups are restricted to no more than 10 people but he said it shouldn't prove too difficult.
"We're in uncharted territory. I'm not sure how it's policed but we'll make sure we follow regulations," he said.
"We usually get more than 20 at training so we'll need at least three coaches, maybe even four.
"It will be a challenge for our club to cater for that until we're back to normal. Dennis (Mavridis), our first grade coach, will take the core group, Peter Brossman will take a second group and I'll run a third. We're pretty well managed so I think we'll make ends meet."
Neilson said the club are optimistic for the season ahead after some strong performances earlier on in the year.
"We had a really promising start to the pre-season. We really exceeded expectations in our first three hit-outs," he said.
While its has been a staggered start, Neilson said the eager anticipation over a return to the Far North Coast conference still remains within the club.
"The excitement of going back up north is palpable. It's a very stable competition," he said.
"It may not be as stable as it was before we left as they are going through some minor changes, but there's a lot of registered players in the region. We're looking forward to it."
As some clubs in the Clarence Valley struggle for numbers for the remainder of the 2020 season, Neilson said the extended break has opened the door for some undecided members to get back in the Maclean green.
"There were definitely some people tossing up playing before this happened.," he said.
"In some ways this break has been a positive as we've had plenty of guys committing to the season ahead. It's given them the time to think it over."