This week we're looking at the responses from our UNSW elite athletes' clubs and organisations in looking after their athletes during this lockdown period. First up, we have this great story from the Sydney Swans, the home club of our students James Rowbottom, Joel Amartey and Will Hayward.

Sydney Swans players at UNSW
Sydney Swans players James Rowbottom, Joel Amartey and Will Hayward are adjusting to a different way of studying and training.

Much of the public conversation in recent weeks has focused on players' physical fitness.

Concern also abounds at clubs over the mental aspect of isolation life, especially given skeleton staffing means there is nowhere near the level of off-field support compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sydney coach John Longmire, having seen teammates and players under his tutelage go public with their mental health battles, repeatedly lobbied the AFL to allow clubs to pay for psychologists outside of the football department soft cap.

Longmire's plea was finally granted at the end of last year when the League agreed welfare was an important spend outside the cap.

The North Melbourne great, who is mentoring one of the League's most inexperienced and youthful lists, is now tackling a different sort of challenge from his home office.

"It's something that everyone in the industry is aware of, making sure your staff and players are supported in some way, shape or form," Longmire said.

"You've now got players who have taken pay cuts but also have that disconnection ... and the support network is so different to what it was a month ago.

"We've only got eight on our list from NSW, out of 45, so a lot of the players have gone back to where they grew up."

Longmire is trying, as best he can with calls and Zoom sessions, to recreate the atmosphere at the club's SCG base.

The 2012 premiership coach's strong advice has been for his charges to get into routines, find an outlet outside football and avoid falling into bad habits.

The Swans' welfare manager and psychologist remain on deck, while stood-down members of their football department are also helping players navigate the uncertain time.

"There's no requirement to do that. Staff are just heavily invested in a player's on-field and off-field adventures, it's hard to switch that off," Longmire said.

Longmire also highlighted how Sydney's "leaders have been terrific".

"They're a really engaged young list. They drive each other, they've got structure still in their week," he said.

"Different groups are working together to make it manageable, they are supporting each other.

"There's a way to manage that to make sure that everyone has someone to talk to. That can be advice in a training sense, a lifestyle sense, but in a personal development sense as well.

"Making sure these guys have a purpose when they get up. Do your exercise - to stay healthy both mentally and physically - but then get on with something in their life."

Collingwood midfielder Dayne Beams, who stepped away from football indefinitely last year to focus on his mental health, detailed last week how he worries the unprecedented situation could contribute to mental-health issues.

This story originally appeared on the Sydney Swans website