As the U.K. Government slowly lifts the social restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, some sports and recreational hobbies are once again permitted, but with strict guidelines. All the added stipulations and regulations point to one question for football and sports in general, when will things be back to normal?
Yesterday, the Football Association and Its 46 County FA’s announced new protocols for the return of grassroots football. In line with government advice, the FA have announced the following outdoor activity is permitted;
- Playing football individually
- Playing football with family/friends from your household
- Training or fitness activities in groups of no more than 6 people (where social distancing can be implemented)
Under the current guidelines, matches, small-sided or full sized, are not permitted however the guidelines do state that coaches can organise multiple groups of 6, meaning 12 players can practice in 2 groups of 6, providing social distancing can be implemented of course.
There is an air of rushing back into normality about the U.K. Government’s recent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now being told that if we can go to work, we should and not only that, but we can also go wherever we want, in England at least.
But what do these relaxations mean for football? Well, for many paid coaches, it may mean they can return to work in some form or other. Many coaching businesses will be able to re-open with limited numbers and grassroots players will be allowed a restricted level of practice/exercise, but all of this is certainly a long way from “normal”.
What will football look like when it returns? Will it be safe? The only example we have is in the return of the German Bundesliga. If you haven’t seen the new Bundesliga action, then allow me to explain. Players, coaches and backroom staff alike all still share the same dressing room, safe? Well I’m no Professor Whitty but I highly doubt it’s a good idea. Coaches, players and staff must all wear face coverings off the pitch but is this being adhered to? Well yes and no, it seems it depends on whether you think your face mask is important or not. We’ve seen coaches remove their masks to talk to players and others just blatantly not wearing theirs whilst speaking to someone who is.
But surely it can’t get more ridiculous? Well it can. According to the Bundesliga, players must now follow certain guidelines whilst in the stadium, these include, no handshakes or high fiving , no celebrating with other players (physically touching) no helping other players from off the ground and all substitutes must be 2 metres apart. However, players are still allowed to do the following, man mark, slide tackle, shield the ball and form a wall. So what’s the point I hear you ask? Honestly, I have no idea.
One thing is for sure, football is coming back sooner than many perhaps first thought. Which delights us all at Paddock F.C. as we want to showcase our new club to the world as soon as possible, however, we will do everything we can to keep our players and staff safe when the time is right.