Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis called it the most challenging football experience any player will face.
The six-week period in Prince Edward Island that’ll go down as The Island Games was truly a jump into a freezing deep end after a dry nine months. CPL players were forced to adapt on the fly to playing a highly-competitive game every three days, with no pre-season to get up to speed. They took it all in stride, and the event was a smash hit.
Now that they’ve all returned home, though, players are faced with the other side of the 2020 coin once again: for any club not named Forge, there’s a long off-season ahead.
Some sides — FC Edmonton, for instance, and some Calgary-based Cavalry FC players — are still training in some form while the weather is still good. Certain players have been sent out on loan. For many, though, the reality is setting in that it’ll be a few months before games resume.
Atlético Ottawa players have all returned to their respective homes away from the capital. Pacific FC, too, told players to get their minds completely away from football for a while before returning to training.
York9 FC midfielder Joe Di Chiara conceded that it’s been a strange transition after the non-stop action in PEI.
“It’s a little odd,” Di Chiara told CanPL.ca. “I’m at home and I wake up and I say, ‘well what am I going to do?’ It’s just a huge adjustment that you go through.”
For Di Chiara, at least, settling back into his home in York Region after The Island Games has been an almost Sartrean exercise in keeping busy.
“I was talking to my wife about it, she was like ‘How does it feel to be home?'” Di Chiara recalled. “We go from over a month of the routine and strict rules (at The Island Games) — when to wake up, when to eat — and now you’re thrown into, there’s no routine, no time, no meaning. You’re just on your own, it’s weird.”
Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Di Chiara, there’s a lot of time ahead to readjust to what life was like before The Island Games. Players will be hoping they don’t need to return to the virtual training sessions that characterized April and May, but either way the next little while isn’t likely to be too busy.
Perhaps a little rest is a good thing, though, after the gauntlet in PEI.