He reflected this week on the shock of being told earlier this month at Glenelg that footy was set to go into hiatus.
“I assumed it was just another training night, but there was a meeting at about six o’clock and they pretty much told us that the SANFL had held a meeting that morning and had basically said, ‘Have a month off’ and we’re not going to play any footy until May 31,” Baldwin said.
He acknowledges that a June return also looks optimistic.
“They originally said that May 31 would be the comeback day. I’m not sure how that’ll go to be honest. With some of the stuff that Scott Morrison’s been saying I don’t think that May 31 is really going to be realistic.”
Initially the news didn’t hit that hard. Baldwin was already used to being on the sidelines, and felt prepared to bide a little more time.
“I personally wasn’t as disappointed as a few other people considering I’d already been out for 12 months, so what was two or three months extra? Whereas other people who hadn’t gone through that long injury see two months, three months as a really long time,” he said.
“But now that it’s probably looking more like six months I’m pretty disappointed. They’ve closed all the gyms and started to put lots of restrictions on gatherings as well. It’s becoming even harder to get out and have a kick and that sort of stuff.”
He’s been heading to a mate’s house to use dumbbells as well as focusing on his running, trying to make do amid the extreme limits being felt across society.
Like other draft hopefuls he’s also been updating a wellness log and training diary so that AFL suitors know he’s doing everything he can amid these trying times.
He is keen to play as soon as possible but in the event he can’t Baldwin at least has a strong under-16s national championships campaign in the bank, having led South Australia to victory in 2018.
“I was pretty happy with my under-16s year, especially at the championships. But especially after putting in so much work over this last 12 months I was looking forward to having an opportunity to show what I’ve been working on.
“Hopefully we do play, but just focusing on what you can focus on. You can only control what’s in front of you at the moment.”
Schools are yet to be closed in South Australia, leaving Baldwin still with plenty to do. There’s academic uncertainty too, with Baldwin eyeing a university medicine course but not knowing what will end up happening this year with ATAR scores. In the meantime, he is trying to lift spirits at school, where only 200 of 700 kids attended on Monday.
“A lot of my focus was to try to find ways to keep the community aspect of the school going while everyone is so separated and disconnected,” he said. “Making sure the community and the social aspect of being in person at school, is there a way you can simulate that online when everyone goes to online schooling and make sure everyone stays connected as possible.
“The school vice-captain and I are probably going to start doing a podcast in the next month or two just so people at home tune in. Just tell a joke, or tell a story, keep everyone up and about.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter