For nine weeks Matt Newman, Josh Suidgeest and Tyson Cook all felt like they had no purpose.
When NSW was plunged into lockdown in the second week of August, the East Coast Futsal Academy All Abilities squad members had their one constant ripped away.
On October 12 they took their first step on the road back to competitive futsal when they became the academy's first three players to return to the court.
"It gives us purpose and it gives us family. We're a family here. We love playing out there with our mates. We need it for not only our physical health, but our mental health," Newman said.
"It's been hard times for everyone of course. It's been one thing after the next."
Over the last two years there has been plenty of disruptions, but none of which compares to the euphoria of winning a national title to the despair of being impacted by bushfires, floods and now COVID.
"I've been dying for (futsal) to come back," Newman said.
"It's felt like so long; two years we haven't been able to play consistently and even the times we've come back I don't think we've had a full term with all the distractions."
Teammate Tyson Cook admitted he had been hit hard by the feeling of complete isolation.
"A lot of people don't realise with our training that a lot of it isn't about the sport, it's about being around people and having that access to our community," he said.
"That's what I've really struggled with."
Cook has been counting down the hours since they were informed a week ago that training could resume while the break came at a good time for Josh Suidgeest as he recovered from an ankle injury.
"I haven't kicked a ball since April so I'm really looking forward to the training session to get back into the swing of kicking a ball around," Suidgeest said.
For these guys to grasp the understanding of what's happening ... for me it's hard to understand the government changes every day.Mick Day
"It's a really nice community; there are different age groups from under-8s through to open men and women's teams so there's lots of different age ranges."
Academy director Mick Day said the two-month break equated to about 12 months as the team thrived off being together.
"They came off such a big win with nationals and then were flattened by so many little things and then COVID," he said.
"For these guys to grasp the understanding of what's happening ... for me it's hard to understand the government changes every day.
"Nobody wants to train, train, train and never play a game. Everyone trains for a reason and that's to play a game. My hat's off to these guys to want to get together, say hi and train knowing we won't play until next year."
Mark down October 12 as the first step for East Coast Futsal Academy's All Abilities' program and their path to the nationals in January.
"For these guys to be the first ones back ... we're pretty proud it's these guys and this group," Day said.
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