Xbox, skill challenges keeping soccer community sane as fields remain empty

PRACTICE RUN: Former Football Wagga development officer Liam Dedini, replacement Kyle Yeates and player Jake Ploenges practice FIFA 20.
PRACTICE RUN: Former Football Wagga development officer Liam Dedini, replacement Kyle Yeates and player Jake Ploenges practice FIFA 20.

WHEN footballers are stuck indoors during a pandemic, they need to scratch that competitive itch somehow.

The Football Wagga community have taken to video games and skills challenges to do just that while the fields remain empty during the coronavirus epidemic.

Clubs are being encouraged to enter a FIFA 20 video game tournament, with plans for a Playstation Four and Xbox events to start this weekend.

Nominations close at midday on Friday and participants must have played a role within Football Wagga in the last five years.

The 'Football Wagga Challenge' has also given players a more interactive way of honing their skills, with challenges ranging from beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Wagga City Wanderers youngster Luke Stevens has submitted a strong contender for one of the $50 prizes, taking the mickey out of 'hoarders' by submitting a video where he expertly juggles a toilet paper roll.

Football Wagga development officer Kyle Yeates said it's important the soccer community continues to interact with each other while they can't play the game they love.

"It's about making sure everyone stays in contact with each other because making friends is mostly what the game's about. If you have to stay at home, you have to find a way," he said.

"There's been a good response (for the FIFA 20 tournament) and hopefully we can build on that over the next few days.

"You can have more than one player represent from each club, we're hoping each club gets involved. Depending on how many players we get we'll either do an elimination format or group stages."

"There's also been a pretty good reaction for the challenges we put out online. We've had a few people at home get involved while everyone's trying to get used to the situation."

Soccer has set a checkpoint of April 14 to determine whether they're able to start their season, which means at least the first two rounds will be affected.

But Yeates admitted the start date is likely to be much later.

"There's no way (we'll start then) considering what the other codes have done, where they've laid staff off until at least the end of May," he said.

"I can't see us getting back on the pitch then."

This story Soccer community turns to Xbox for competition first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.