From pre-season to a pandemic: Q&A with Gungahlin’s Antoni Timotheou
Antoni Timotheou is a prominent player for Gungahlin United Football Club’s first grade National Premier League side. His midfield position is something he has worked hard for since he started playing for the club 17 years ago.
Now with social distancing and self-isolation becoming the norm, his games and training have been postponed indefinitely effective from the 17th of March.
In accordance with our national regulatory body’s (Football Federation Australia) decision, GUFC is suspending ALL…
With Covid-19 running rampant and gatherings now officially banned, Felix Bernhardi from NowUC talks to Gungahlin United’s Antoni Timotheou about the effects.
Q. What does your off-season fitness routine usually look like?
A. When matches and club training are few and far in between my teammates and I are given a ‘running program’. This running program differs player to player, but I usually focus on short, sharp sprinting that keeps my stamina high. My favoured midfield position might have something to do with that. This roughly five-month period compares very differently to my in-season training and match fitness.
It’s really hard in the off-season – match fitness is completely different from training – it’s the matches that really get you to peak fitness.
My fitness profits most during my matches when I’m pushed to my out-most limits. No box-to-box or yo-yo test can live up to the strenuous level of fitness required during a game.
Q. Does your pre-season training look the same?
A. Similar to matches, my pre-season training is also more intense than the running program I follow in the off-season. This 8 to 10 week period is designed to get you back to peak performance, while the off-season is simply about maintaining a high standard. Of course, this standard usually suffers.
Q. What do you do outside of your football activities?
A. The gym is circumvented almost entirely if only to do a bit of injury prevention training and strengthening of important muscle groups.
Social life is also no challenge for me. Many of my friends play for the same club and we enjoy physical activities together on the field, as well as off the field.
Q. How has the recent announcement that all matches will be pushed back four weeks effected you and the team?
A. It’s annoying more than anything. We are one week out from the start of the season and we can’t so much as go to training. My team and I discussed what will happen and we think that the season will inevitably have to be shortened to keep the competition fair.
It’s just so annoying because we’ve had a really good pre-season, especially in games…it’s just really annoying that my momentum, my form, is going to be affected.
This season was set to have three rounds for eight teams. Now, with the delay of the start of the season that might be condensed into two rounds. Giving players less time on the field and potentially less reward. Teams might also have to play two matches per week, he says. One on the weekend as has been tradition, and one during the week. The season is now set to start around the 13th of April unless further delays are enforced.
Above: Antoni and his team (top, far right)
Q. How has this affected you personally?
A. Although players are paid a wage for the matches they play, it’s nothing compared to the A-League. It’s a supplementary income if anything. My day job is working at the cinema where I am a valued team member. Football allows me to save up for the occasional treat, while my day-job pays for food and fuel. Luckily, being on the team doesn’t carry a large financial burden for individual players. All that is required of us is our boots and a way of getting to club activities, such as matches and training sessions.
Aside from my football career and day job, I also go to university. Between these three occupations, I am a busy man and not at all used to the quiet lifestyle I will now lead for the next four weeks. I love football and am disappointed that I can’t play for a time.
The more games the better.
Q. What’s next for you, Antoni?
A. I realised a few years ago that I had to make a decision. It was either keep playing and maybe go pro or start my education. I chose the latter. So, at the moment I’m playing because I thoroughly enjoy the game. I know I probably won’t progress from the NPL, but that’s okay.
I just play for fun…I obviously want to win and be the best in the team, but it’s really for fun now and to be social.
When I was 15 I had dreams of going to America to play college football and hit it off from there, but it’s really hard to do. You don’t get paid and college is expensive. So, you need at least a partial scholarship otherwise it’s just too much [of a] financial strain. So at this time, I’m happy in the NPL and don’t have plans on progressing to something like the A-League.
Timotheou has had a blessed early life career in football and now looks towards education to stay on track to a successful life. No doubt he will always be a footballer at heart.
Below: Timotheou abroad in 2015
— Antoni Timotheou (@AntoniTimotheou) October 20, 2015