The sudden pause to the National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s season due to COVID-19 meant that we missed out on seeing newly promoted APIA Leichhardt FC do their thing in what was a great recruitment drive for the 2020 year – both Princess Ibini-Isei and Deborah de la Harpe especially were itching for some Lambert Park action in making their APIA debuts.
“COVID-19 has affected most aspects of my life with work, studying, and football all put on hold in some ways,” said de la Harpe.
“It has been very bizarre not having the NPL NSW Women’s football season start, something I look forward to yearly, especially when it has been part of my routine for almost 10 years.”
Ibini echoed her fellow teammates thoughts.
“The virus pandemic has affected me personally as well as it has not allowed me to do the things I enjoy doing such as playing the game I ever so love and being able to hang out with my friends at a cafe or going to the movies.”
With the league suspended after two rounds, APIA, coached by Matthew Costantini, unfortunately saw its first two matches postponed due to teams having players committed to the W-League season which meant that the club has yet to record an official competition match for the 2020 season.
With that in mind and training’s as well as the closure of gyms all put on ice, both girls have continued to stay true to their fitness routines.
“I’ve continued my own training sessions during the lockdown trying to keep up with my normal routine as best as I can.
“It has been good going back to my local park and continuing on with my conditioning, ball training, and getting some home gym work in.
“Usually I drag along a sibling or friend to keep that competitive edge and work through drills as company.
“I think it has been a really good time to improve and perfect certain weaknesses in my game.
“APIA has been great though creating fitness programs for us and continuing team zoom sessions which have been good fun and has been great for all our mental health and well-being seeing how all my teammates are going,” said de la Harpe.
Ibini has mixed family time with fitness stating it’s been great spending time with her loved ones along with keeping herself fit and healthy.
“Since the football lockdown commenced, I’ve been enjoying spending time with my family.
“It’s been nice having everyone under the same roof as it has been a while since we’ve all been together as one.
“I have also been reading a lot which is something I don’t usually do because I don’t have the time to.
“I am fortunate enough to live across the road from a football field where I’m able to train whenever I want.
“I also have some gym equipment at my home which I have been using with my mum and brother to stay fit.”
The inner sanctum that is the dressing sheds is something both Young Matildas stars have missed along with playing the game they love with their fellow teammates with the dynamic duo hoping that the green light was only around the corner in getting everything back to normal once more.
“It’s tough to narrow down what I miss most but I honestly miss everything about our beautiful game.
“I miss the competition itself and of course my teammates – we’ve assembled a very competitive and motivating group of players in what is a fantastic environment and I cannot wait to get back to it.
“It is without a doubt a very frustrating time and everyone is itching to get back on the field.
“However, the more we continue to take the precautions and listen to safety measures the sooner we can get back out there.
“We need to continue to make the most of this time at home with family and continue to get the most out of your individual training and before you know we will be enjoying the sights and sounds of our league once more,” ended de la Harpe.
The banter was something high on Princess’ list she missed along with playing the world game.
“I cannot hide the fact that we have such a great squad full of personalities so I certainly miss playing the game as well as the great banter that comes along with it from my teammates to the coaches to the extended staff.
“To see that again though we need to keep following the guidelines that have been put in place as it is for our safety.
“I know everyone is missing football but we have to stay safe, practice social distancing so that we can hit up Lambert Park and other NPL NSW Women’s pitches very soon.”