Player catch up: Phil Riccobene

Puzzles, tv shows and chasing after the little one. Those are the activities keeping Avondale defender Phillip Riccobene occupied during lockdown.

After Football Victoria and Football Federation Australia announced the suspension of all football-related activities last month due to COVID-19, the NPL Victoria season was postponed and the future of the 2020 campaign was left in doubt.

Restrictions on social activities and leaving the house have further limited everyday life, but Riccobene says he is adjusting well to staying at home.

“It’s been quite a smooth transition,” he said.

“I enjoy being home, especially with my wife and my little one … spending time with them and seeing them everyday is good.”

Catching up on tv shows and doing puzzles have been key activities in passing the time, while juggling toilet paper has proven to be trickier than anticipated.

“I was trying to juggle some toilet paper before and that didn’t go too well, I was pretty shocking at it to be honest,” he said.

Asked what the toughest puzzle he’d had to tackle so far was, an obvious answer came straight to mind.

“[The toughest] was a Mickey Mouse Walt Disney one,” he said.

“It was that typical old-school Mickey Mouse, with his wand and water coming out. It was pretty tough … It took us a little while to put that together.”

While the shutdown has meant more time to spend with his wife and young son, it has also meant massive reduction spent with teammates and the Avondale family. And with no set date for the league to resume, staying motivated has been key.

“It is a little bit difficult [being away from the team] … it’s such a big part of your life. You’re around them [the other players] 48 weeks of the year, it’s tough.

“We do keep in touch with everyone, the banter is still good This is new to everyone … everyone is taking it as it comes.

“We don’t know when we’re going to be starting. It’s tough to stay self motivated, we just don’t know when we’ll be going back. We don’t know how long this is going to go for.”

Addressing the challenge of staying motivated further, Riccobene believes he has the solution.

“It’s just a matter of keep ticking over and keep doing those little things to stay strong and still keep fit for the return back,” he said.

“[My ket] to stay motivated is just trying to get fit again, get strong again in hope that when it all does return back to normal I can put my hand up and be ready for selection again.”

Once football does return, Riccobene said he is excited for what’s to come. 

After joining the club for the start of the 2015 season, he has been part of Avondale’s transition from top tier new boys to perennial title contenders.

“Seeing the club grow drastically, they’ve taken big steps and just turned themselves into an absolute powerhouse club. It’s been good to be part of that journey,” he said.

“The club has good ambitions and want to give it a good nudge”

As part of that journey, he has seen the club shift its home base from Doyle Street Reserve to Avenger Park. He said having a home base has a big impact and he is looking forward to getting to experience the stadium upgrades – the new scoreboard and grandstand – first-hand.

“It all adds to the whole surroundings at the club, it does make it still feel professional,” he said.

“It will be great to get back onto Avenger Park and play a home game.”

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