NASHVILLE – Over the last few weeks, Nashville SC players have returned to the pitch at Currey Ingram Academy for voluntary individual workouts. Head Coach Gary Smith spoke to the media about what the players have been able to do on their own on the pitch, and what his team would need going forward in order to return to action.
On players returning for individual workouts
“Well first of all, it’s been great to have the guys back at the training ground. It seems like an eternity since any of us had any close interaction with the players. I think more than anything, it’s a big morale boost and certainly a positive step. Now, for sure it’s a small step, but it’s enabled the players to be back in a more structured and safe environment. Some of the work that we’ve been able to put on has enabled the guys yet again to be on a good surface, to be around decent equipment and the environment, but as I said at the very start, I think the biggest positive out of this is morale, good interaction again – or decent interaction – and a very nice step towards something we all hope is going to be a return to playing in the not-too-distant future.”
On how much interaction he has with players and how much the players interact
“We’re really restricted, players are on their own. There’s no coaching, no interaction. There’s a lot of safety precautions to make sure that when there’s a changeover of players, or even when the players are coming into the training facility, they’re not colliding, there’s not an issue with individuals getting too close and maybe running into more health and virus problems. Just really, to make sure that the players are back into a restricted and confined environment that’s better for them.”
On how much time the team would need to be ready to play matches
"The professional athlete at this level would need what a normal preseason would look like. Some of the questions that obviously surround what a season might look like will certainly impact how much time we do get to prepare. But some of the ongoing discussions have suggested that it could be up to four weeks for players and teams to get themselves back into some order. It’s not just being fit and healthy and in a good position to compete against other teams, but there’s a lot of things that go into making sure that your team’s ready and prepared for whatever the challenges are in front of them. We’re not just talking about one game here, we’re talking about preparing players for a season that could still be anywhere from 75% to a full season – so it’s a lot of games, a lot of stress on a player’s body.”
On what he’s been up to in quarantine
“I’ve done more video calls than I’ve ever done in my lifetime. This was something pretty new to me and suddenly these computer-based video calls have become the norm. I think I’ve got six of them today, this one included. There have been some things that we’ve been able to do as a group: i.e. looking at prospective players and future recruitment. Lots of time to look at video footage and be more familiar with some targets, and to try and unearth some others.
“There have been some things that have been personally important to maybe get my teeth into a little bit more that I might not have done had I been in the midst of a normal season. Probably one of the more enjoyable angles has been trying to learn Spanish. I’ve tried twice before, I’ve always wanted to be able to speak another language, and Spanish being the one that I’ve really tried to focus in on. I don’t find it easy, and I’m not this time, either. We’ve got a bit of a fun and enjoyable angle on it: we have a bit of a league table and competition on where we are, and how much we’ve learned, and points that we’ve gained. I would be relegated if it was a genuine table. I’ve enjoyed it, and I do enjoy it; I’m just not very good at it.”