THE COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted life as we knew it across the globe.
First, Government restrictions on gatherings forced Port Adelaide to play in front of an empty Metricon Stadium.
It was on the way home from that trip to the Gold Coast that Power players and staff came to the realisation that the 2020 AFL season would be postponed, with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan confirming the news shortly after.
Now, a week removed from McLachlan’s press conference, the Port Adelaide Football Club looks a very different operation. 80 per cent of staff have been stood down, with the remaining employees working from home and the playing group forced away from their Alberton training base.
However, Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas has been overwhelmed by the response from the club’s members and supporters, knowing the football club is not alone in facing uncertain times.
“It is not the club in isolation that is doing it tough, it’s everyone,” Thomas said on Adelaide radio on Monday morning.
“People are trying to work out right now what does the next few months look like for them, very often without work and uncertainty and all those things, so we are very mindful of that.
“The question that they are asking us is ‘how can we support you’, which is really lovely and really gratifying, but we are also thinking about how we can help them and how can we support each other through this.”
Port’s chief executive said his club is determined to remain connected with its supporters through the coronavirus crisis and hopes to come out the other side an even stronger community.
“We are trying to think of ways that we can connect with our community that helps us both get through this tough time and strengthens us as a community,” Thomas said.
“So whilst everyone is very supportive at the moment and wanting to hang in there with us, I am very conscious that it is going to get tougher to do and we will try and support each other through it.”
Thomas said that the mental health of Port Adelaide’s playing group is also at the front of mind during the current unsettling times.
Those that played on the Gold Coast continue to self-isolate themselves until next week, while the entire playing group will remain away from the club for at least month.
“I think that it (players’ mental health) is a very real concern. It is a traumatic environment,” Thomas explained.
“They are going to be thinking about their families – we are all thinking about our mums and dads and grandparents, the people that are close to us.
“We are very conscious that these are young men in a foreign environment now, from being very disciplined in everything they do to being isolated and idle, and it’s not easy in a very uncertain and traumatic world.
“So there is a mental component to this that we need to be aware of as a broader community and certainly as our players we are getting around them in a variety of ways.
“We are extending programs we were already running in different ways that talk about resilience.
“We will be upping the ante in those sort of things.”