AS he feels the sand between his toes, Adam Federici feels relaxed and in a great mindset to lead the A-League's newest team as they charge into the record books.
From the hustle and bustle of living in Europe, the gloveman has enjoyed a sea change, moving back home to live on the South Coast with his family.
The 35-year-old has signed a two-year deal with Macarthur FC and returns to Australia with a wealth of experience under his belt, having played in more than 280 games for various English Premier and Championship League clubs.
With around six weeks remaining until the Bulls play their first A-League game, Federici is relishing the challenge of being one of the new club's most experienced campaigners.
"The season's still pretty far away so we're just getting the work in at the moment. Training has been tough," the Huskisson product said.
"It is difficult taking players from everywhere and bringing them together to create a new club and culture. It has its challenges.
"But I've been around the block and I'd like to think that I try to help people every day.
"My role in the team is that, to give my experience and what I've learned over many years of playing football.
"I try my best to be vocal every day and try to help people. It's a side of football that I really enjoy doing.
"And for me, settling in has been great - it feels normal for me.
"For the family, it feels new to them but they've settled in pretty well.
"They're enjoying everything that Australia has to offer, especially the South Coast: it's such an amazing place.
"I've been lucky enough to travel the world but there's no place like Australia.
"It's fantastic for a million different reasons, from the people to the food to the beach lifestyle and everything that comes with that.
"So I'm extremely grateful to be here, to be part of it, especially with Europe so dominated by COVID at the moment."
I try my best to be vocal every day and try to help people. It's a side of football that I really enjoy doing.Adam Federici
It has been a busy couple of months for Macarthur FC as they build towards the A-League season starting on December 27.
Federici was the third player to sign with the new club in late July, joining former Central Coast player Tommy Oar and Olyroos midfielder Denis Genreau.
The Bulls then unveiled Mark Milligan as their inaugural club captain last month, while recent signings include Socceroos defenders Ivan Franjic and Aleksander Susnjar, and Spanish international Benat Etxebarria.
And as their playing roster grows, Federici believes the key to Macarthur FC's their off-field success has been the appointment of inaugural head coach, Ante Milicic.
"Ante has done such a fantastic job getting the players that he has and under the circumstances with COVID around the world," he said.
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"To pull together this sort of team is a massive credit to him and the owners as well.
"They've done such a superb job to bringing in the sort of characters that want to be there, want to work hard, and some top quality players as well.
"I've worked with Ante before with the Socceroos and his philosophies on football are similar to mine.
"I think, with football, you always want to work with good people and that's exactly what he is.
"He has then developed a squad around that.
"The people he's brought in have all been fantastic to work with and people with a good work ethic.
"His staff and everyone he has selected are fantastic.
"So I can't speak highly enough of the job he's done in these times, to start from scratch, he's done an amazing job.
"We're looking forward to putting his ideas and philosophies on to the pitch.
"We're all working extremely hard for him."
Another key piece of the puzzle has been picking up Milligan, who played 80 games for the Socceroos.
Federici believes the defender is the perfect man to captain the Bulls.
"I've known 'Millsy' a long time, we were at the Australian Institute of Sport together, so I know his character," he said.
"He's just another one that slots into this Bulls' team mentality and he's such a bonus to have around the place.
"I'm a goalkeeper so there's only so much that I can give out, but to have him right in the middle is a massive bonus.
"You've got to give credit to the manager for bringing in people like Mark.
"He's a really good influence on the squad, from his professionalism to his on the pitch presence as well.
"He's settled in nicely and working with the young lads, and I think he suits that role very much."
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And while they're armed with a squad full of quality talent, Federici admits he isn't sure what to expect in the upcoming A-League season: the veteran has never played professional football in Australia.
However, he should get a better feel over the coming days. The Bulls play a combination Bankstown/Macarthur Football Association side in a friendly on Saturday, before tackling the Olyroos at Jubilee Stadium next Tuesday night.
They will also take on Newcastle in a trial match at Maitland on November 26.
"I haven't played in the league so I don't know [what to expect]. But we had a good hit out recently against Sydney FC and we felt pretty good in that game," the goalkeeper said.
"We don't speak about expectations because it's obviously a start-up club.
"But at the same time, we drive each other every day to be better and it's a good approach to have.
"We're just trying to improve as a group and get that togetherness that will hopefully be successful.
"In football, you can never look too far down the line so we'll take each game as it comes.
"We look forward to playing these friendlies and pre-season games, and see what we can get out of them.
"Hopefully by the time the season comes around, we'll be ready to go."
And while the Bulls will hope to make an immediate impression on the field, Federici knows they will be judged on more than that.
Crucial to Macarthur FC's success will be building a solid fan base: and not just in the Campbelltown region.
"It's great for the area. Campbelltown Stadium is really great: we've trained there a couple of times and it's got a great little atmosphere," Federici said.
"Hopefully when it's safe to do so, we get some great crowds in there.
"There's some great photos of rugby league games on the walls when you walk in there, and it looks beautiful when it's filled out.
"So hopefully we can replicate that with some of our games and get a bit of a buzz around town.
"And it's not far from Wollongong so hopefully we can drift a few supporters up our way.
"It's great to support local teams, so I'm hoping we can attract some more fans to watch some good football in a great stadium."
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