York9 FC coach Jim Brennan: ‘Football comes second’ at the moment

YORK REGION – Upon returning home from Florida on March 14, York9 FC entered a 14-day isolation period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while trying to maintain the momentum gained from the effort put in during their interrupted pre-season, and hopeful that kickoff to the 2020 CPL campaign would be just around the corner.

Needless to say, going into self-isolation cramped their ability to train as a group, something every club is now dealing with as all pre-season training has been put on a temporary hold and the start of the regular season has been delayed.

Players across the league are now working out on their own in an attempt to stay fit and to be ready when pre-season resumes.

“They’ve got individual programs that they can do at home to keep them ticking over,” Y9 coach Jim Brennan told “We can’t get together, we can’t train.

“But we try to give them a program that they can do at their house to keep them active.”

It falls on each individual and what they have on hand to stay ready.

“Some of us have treadmills – I have a bike – so we work on our cardio,” explained 19-year-old Max Ferrari, undergoing his first pre-season as a professional with Y9. “I stay downstairs in the basement, I have a whole setup with weights and everything, but if you don’t have that stuff we have all bodyweight (training exercises).

“Just try to keep your cardio up as much as you can. Obviously if you have the room, get your touches in. Just stay fit is basically the goal right now.”

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Kicking a ball in the basement is hollow replacement for being out on the pitch, though.

“The guys have given us a plan. I have a lot of weights in the basement, so I have no problem doing the weights. I bought a skipping rope and I’m going outside for a run about half an hour a day,” fullback Morey Doner detailed. “It’s tough. It’s a mental game as well. The physical side I can do. I can do all the push-ups and everything like that.

“But for me, especially because I’m so hungry to be in this game – I had 25 years of not playing (professionally) and now I finally had a good season and I just want to keep going, I have a lot of adrenaline, I want to run with it… it’s frustrating,” he continued. “When I first wanted to be a pro, I would write down goals for myself: when can I do this, when can I do that, and how will I get there? And now I’m struggling.

“There’s no time frame for this. When are we going to come back to play? What is the date that I can circle my calendar to show this is where I’m aiming for? There’s so many unknowns.”

It’s safe to say that we are all experiencing the same emotions, and we are all frustrated during these difficult times — including the ever cool and collected York9 gaffer.

“We had a good few weeks going into it, we were in the right spot, where we want to be after after four weeks of training and then this happens,” Brennan lamented. “But at the end of the day, it’s about our health and being safe and that’s a priority. The football comes second.

“It is what it is; we’ve got to deal with it. These are the challenges that we’ve got to face. But if our players and our fans and everybody is safe and they’re healthy, then we’ve played our role in society. That comes first before football.”

We’re all in this together. And right now, we’re all missing soccer.

“Sometimes I get my inspiration from watching the Premier League, watching my favourite players on TV and right now there’s really nothing to watch,” Doner said. “There’s no sports, there’s no football.

“Waking up Saturday mornings, getting excited to watch some Premier League like I always do, it’s not there right now.”

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Sports have a way of both bringing us together and providing a natural, healthy escape from the daily rigours.

We all miss that, too.

“You have problems outside of football and you just go on the field and you play, you burn that off and you’re happy again. Whenever you’re on the field, you’re the happiest,” Doner explained. “We just don’t have that right now, for everyone. We’re just going to have to wait, keep our fingers crossed and hope the next few months, few weeks, goes according to plan.”

And when it does come back, we all embrace it, embrace everything, with a new, more appreciative spirit.

“I hope the fans and everyone will,” Doner anticipated. “Before this there was a such a love for the game – a new league, new players, everything. Everyone wanted to be a part of that. And now, everyone’s a little scared.

“I just hope that when football does come back, we get the same support as we used to.”