Gaby stabs home the rebound for the first goal against Milford & Witley Ladies. Photo: Neil Holmes

How has the last 3 months in lockdown affected you?

This lockdown has meant that I had to move back home and live with my mum. For the first time in 4 years I was living back at home and it was during a pandemic! This was a huge adjustment for me and wasn’t what I expected would happen coming into 2021. This means I now live in London, away from my friends, work place and football down in Chichester.

Were the changes difficult to adjust to being away that long?

Yes, it took a while to get used to, but now I am enjoying being back home and spending time with my family. This lockdown has been tough for everyone and I’m just happy I’ve been able to see my family and grateful that I have a good support system around me when many others don’t. like many, I have spent most of this lockdown watching many TV series and going on endless walks so when it was announced football was starting again I was very happy.

Chichester City Women training Photo: Neil Holmes
Gaby Hobday takes on Mikki Collins in post-lockdown training Photo: Neil Holmes

How hard was it to keep your fitness going in case football returned?

Pretty hard, it was the first one where football had to stop and this affected me massively. It was really hard to find the motivation to continue working hard as for a long time there was no indication as to if or when the league would restart again. I spent most of my lockdown working hard and doing football drills in the park, going for runs and doing sessions on the exercise bike.

I would do 5 or 6 sessions a week but found it hard to keep my fitness levels up and was getting frustrated that I wasn’t improving as much as I wanted. I found it most effective for me to keep mixing it up when it came to how I exercised as I’ve never been one to really enjoy running for long distances so the bike sessions and more football focused stuff really benefitted me the most. But as soon as the league confirmed when our first game would be my mood instantly changed and I was excited and looking forward to getting back on the pitch again and suddenly it didn’t matter how good my fitness was I was just happy to be playing again.

Have you managed to carry on working?

On the whole yes, I work for the University of Chichester as a Student Recruitment Assistant and the pandemic has really impacted what my job has involved. Apart from a brief period of furlough last April I have been working throughout the pandemic and I am so glad. I have realized I am not very good at doing nothing so I am grateful to have work to keep me busy. Normally my job involves travelling to schools and colleges to talk about the University and this has been impacted immensely.

With the University closed during lockdown, how did this affect your way of working?

For the past 4 months I have been working from home which has been a big adjustment and often involves a lot more virtual individual tasks. Initially I struggled with working at home as I missed the social element that comes with working in an office and in a team and wished I could get back to working across the country at various events. However I soon settled into working from home and it has provided me with many more skills that I can take into other areas of my work. As rules and restrictions ease I am back to working on campus in Chichester twice a week which is a welcome change.

Scoring against Leatherhead Women. Photo: Neil Holmes

With the SCWGFL season resuming on the 18th April, how does it feel to be back playing?

I am so excited that football is back and I am so happy to be back with the girls and working together to finish the season strong. We have a great group of players and such a good dynamic and atmosphere within the team. Towards the end of 2020 we were on a great run of games and pulling off some great results and we are all excited to get back and hopefully resume that good form we finished the year on.

The league has restructured and we have a lot of double header games in the next month which are a lot more pressured as there’s so much riding on each game, so we need to remain focused and play to our strengths. The whole squad and all the coaching staff are great and we are all wanting to get the results and finish the season strong, but we also understand the importance of having fun and I think the pandemic has proved that it is important to make the most of having football back and not taking everything seriously all the time.

We are ready to work hard and really attack the second half of the season.