Sydney FC striker Adam Le Fondre is proud to be carrying the flag for the beautiful game and providing people with their football fix as one of the few players in the world still playing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The spread of Covid-19 has shaken society to its foundations, with the sporting calendar decimated in a bid to quell the vicious disease sweeping the globe.
Just a handful of events are still going ahead and the A-League, Australia’s premier men’s competition, is among those ploughing on.
This is the Leagues' position today based on current advice. However, it will be reviewed, ongoing, by the Leagues' working group with consideration of any new government information.#ALeaguepic.twitter.com/FZX6ZGTRnx— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) March 16, 2020
It means that Le Fondre, formerly of Rochdale, Rotherham, Reading and several other English clubs, will be one the only players gracing the turf this weekend, when Sydney taking on local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
“With us being the only football going, the onus is sort of on you to carry the flag of that, I guess,” he told the PA news agency.
“I guess everyone is going to be watching because we’re the only football fix you can have, so it’s on us to keep people entertained. That’s what we have to do.
“It’s a duty of care to the game of football, and Australian football, really, and the A-League.
“We’ve got to all as players put on a show, where we can be proud of the product we’re showing everyone.
“We’ve got to keep that up for everyone to see and drum up interest in the league because ultimately that makes everything better for us in the long run, too.”
Australian measures to curb Covid-19 means Saturday’s Sydney derby will be played behind closed doors – but there will be far more viewers than usual given the dearth of live sport.
BT Sport are broadcasting the game in the UK, offering football fans the chance for 90 minutes of escapism on Saturday morning.
The match is also a welcome distraction for Le Fondre, whose parents are stranded in the Canary Islands at a time when he is trying to do his job on the other side of the world.
“I’ve got family that are in Lanzarote in the minute,” the 33-year-old said.
“My parents are there, and they’ve got respiratory issues as well. They can’t get out at the moment because the flights have been cancelled.
“So obviously I’ve got worries back home, but for us here it seems to be that there’s not as much to worry about.
“We seem to have enough of it contained for now to not have as big a struggle as Europe or Asia really had, and hopefully we do contain that properly as a country because obviously it’s been devastating.”
Le Fondre swapped Bolton for Sydney in August 2018 and the free-scoring striker has netted 16 goals in 19 appearances for the table-topping Sky Blues this season, having helped them become A-League champions in his first campaign.
There is a winning mindset around the club and the Stockport-born striker knows mentality will be more important than ever when the world watches a derby played in front of empty stands on Saturday.
“I’ve never played a league game behind closed doors,” said Le Fondre, a Manchester United fan who watched their crowdless Europa League clash at LASK on TV last week.
“I’ve only had that in friendlies and even friendlies I’ve struggled to do that – it’s like training ground games, really.
“Obviously, the mentality on everyone has to be better.
“Whoever mentally prepares best for this game is obviously going to come out on top, so it’s a great test for us all, really, as players because we’re all looking forward to this.
“It should be a great spectacle for us all to get involved in and hopefully we put on a great show for people watching and people can get their football fix watching us.
“Hopefully we all perform to our high standards and it’s a great game for everyone to watch.”
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