The Chattanooga Football Club will be back to in-person training next week, while still complying with social distancing regulations. CFC coach Peter Fuller says the team will be divided into three groups of eight and one smaller group of six.
“Small group training will start on Monday, and we’ll have three different groups moving through at staggered times. We’ll be out at Finley, and we’ll be working on a lot of technical stuff that will combine a lot of technical work with conditioning.”
Even though players cannot do normal scrimmages or contact drills, Coach Fuller says he has several ideas for training. He believes the team can still come up with creative ways of practicing safely without “being right on top of each other.”
Despite being in New Hampshire for the majority of that time and his players unable to meet with one another, Coach Fuller says the team has had no issues with communication.
“We do a weekly zoom call, and the guys have been on an individual program for 10 weeks that I designed,” says Coach Fuller. “So they’ve been working out, and we’ve been staying in touch as best we can. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re making it.”
When asked to explain how he feels about the possibility of a summer tournament, Coach Fuller says he is open to playing any team that wants to square off against CFC. Chattanooga was only able to play a single game before the spring NISA season was suspended, and later cancelled, because of COVID-19.
“I’m just looking forward to playing to be honest with you,” says the coach. “I couldn’t care less if we played Atlanta United or an intramural team. I just want to have a game and see 11 of our players lining up against 11 of somebody else’s, and I’d really like to see the stadium with people in it.”
As of today, it looks as if any game held in Finley Stadium would need to be done in front of empty bleachers. CFC’s coach says he would like for fans to be present, but only if they can be there in a safe manner.
“I would definitely want fans in the stadium as long as it’s safe and we know it’s safe for fans to be in the stadium, for sure I’d like that,” says the coach. “There’s an element missing when there aren’t fans in there from the couple of weeks of Bundesliga that we’ve watched.”
The Bundesliga is Germany’s highest level of professional soccer, and they became arguably the first “high-profile” league to resume their season. Fans are not allowed in the stadium, and non-players must social distance and wear facemasks on the sidelines.
“I think it’s a little bit surreal. I think a little bit of the piped in music and fan noise is a bit hokey,” says Coach Fuller. “And to be honest, the games seem a bit like training games to me because of the atmosphere. But am I glad they’re back to playing? Of course I am, because just like everyone else I want to see football.”
Whenever CFC is allowed to play games again, Coach Fuller believes every team is on an equal ground at the beginning. In his words, “I think a lot of people are in the same boat with it as us. So it doesn’t feel like we’re getting behind the eight ball, I think that everyone else is in the same boat, or we’re doing a little bit more than other people.”
Like many other lower-league teams, no games means no revenue for CFC. Despite this, the Chattanooga Football Club has continued to pay players their promised wages.
“I know there’s a lot of teams that are trying to get around or out of that, and we’re not one of them,” says Coach Fuller. “So I think that’s a real feather in our cap as a group.”
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