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Steven Benda catch-up: Isolation, STFC promotion, and Premier League aim
STEVEN BENDA insists he and his Swindon Town team-mates remain fully focused on League Two promotion this season as the Coronavirus halts football leagues across the World. Total Sport Swindon’s Ryan Walker spoke to the German goalkeeper earlier today to find out how he is keeping match fit, what he’s doing to keep busy, and his plans for the end of the season and beyond.
The Coronavirus pandemic has placed the entire country on lockdown and with the English football leagues suspended until further notice, this is certainly unprecedented times for the nations favourite sport.
Speaking from his home, the Swindon Town shot-stopper gave fans an update insisting he is safe and well in quarantine.
“I live with my girlfriend and we’re all fine, my parents are in Germany but everyone is in quarantine and is safe,” said Benda.
“I’ve been FaceTiming with family, and fortunately we have the technology to do that nowadays.
“My parents were supposed to come over at the end of this week but obviously that can’t happen now.
“I’m staying in touch with my family and we’re all doing well,” he said.
With Swindon Town having not played for nearly a month now, it’s hard to see how players can keep themselves fit for when the season does eventually resume.
Benda, however, outlined how a structured training plan from the Town coaching staff is keeping all the players fit and ready, but admitted it was hard to stay fully match fit given the current circumstances.
“It’s hard to keep match fit because you don’t have the games, but all the players have an exercise plan from the coaching team,” said Benda.
“We have an upper body exercise plan where you do home exercises such as press-ups, and then we have a lower body session for stuff like squats as well.
“Then we have different runs that we have to go on as well to keep our fitness up,” he added.
“It’s difficult to keep mentally fit though because if you don’t train and you don’t play games your mind gets taken off football.
“I am just trying to keep focused and have been watching videos of games to try and help,” he said.
No football means players are now in the unusual position of having hours of free time at their disposal. And with no training or matches to prepare for you may be wondering how a professional footballer keeps themselves busy.
But Benda explained how a mixture of binge-watching Netflix series and chatting with his STFC team-mates in their Whatsapp chat is helping to keep him entertained during isolation.
“I think me and my girlfriend have been through every Netflix series that there is now,” joked Benda.
“I love Power, Ozark is good, and Homeland is good to watch as well.
“I watched Tiger King the other day, it’s funny but definitely a little bit strange,” he added.
“We’ve got a WhatsApp chat between us all and this helps keep us all together as a team.
“We have a few separate groups as well where we put our runs and exercises in,” he said.
“We are all just trying to encourage one another. We have to encourage each other and that’s what we are trying to do.
“Obviously for the coaching staff it’s difficult but they try to keep in contact with us and we follow the plans they set us,” said Benda.
As announced in an EFL statement, the plan remains to finish the current domestic seasons, however, with no foreseeable date yet established as to when games will get back underway, it is anyone's guess as to when football will return to the County Ground.
And while he admitted that being in the automatic playoff positions helps Swindon stay focused, Benda agreed that the lengthy lay-off means it will be like a new season getting underway once the action restarts.
“I think it will be like beginning a new season in some ways,” stated Benda.
"We would have to do a bit of a preseason again to get fit, but we know where we stand in the table and we are all fully focused on promotion still.
“I think it’s going to be difficult to fit all the remaining matches in, and I don’t know how long the season will go on for.
“I think It’ll be two or three games a week, but I think in League two where you play a lot of games and also have mid-week games it should be easier to adapt,” he said.
Benda is currently on-loan at Swindon Town from Championship side Swansea, but with his loan contract - like many others - set to expire on July 1st, Swindon could be left without their number one if the current season overruns this date.
And whilst the 21-year-old keeper insisted his preference is to stay at Swindon and earn promotion this season, he does not know what will happen with his loan deal.
“I actually have no idea what will happen yet with my loan deal,” said Benda.
“A lot of players are out of contract at end of June so the EFL will have to try and sort something out for all these players.
“Swansea contacted us just to tell us that we’ve got told to stay home and do all that stuff,” he added.
"I've got two more years on my contract at Swansea and my goal is to get into the first-team at the club.
“Right now I want to stay in England and my aim is to play in the Premier League because I think it’s the biggest league in the world with the best fans, but then again I’m always open to going back to Germany if the right opportunity was to come up,” he said.
Making the move from Swansea at the start of the season, his time at Swindon was meant to be a light introduction into the men's game with Benda originally set to provide back-up to Luke McCormick.
However, after impressing in games at the start of the campaign, Benda was quickly thrust into the limelight and made the club's number one under Richie Wellens.
Speaking on his time at STFC so far, Benda explained how important playing for Swindon has been for his development and encouraged other young players to follow in his footsteps.
“I think for me it's been very good for my development,” explained Benda.
“Playing in front of 8000 fans consistently and at a top club where you perform every week can only be a good thing.
"It’s definitely different from playing at under-23 level. It’s more physical, there are more people, and it’s more competitive.
“I don't think it would be a bad move for any player to go on loan to League Two, you can’t get that experience playing at under-23 no matter what team you play for.
“You should go out and develop your game,” he said.