Former footballer and youth football coach Robbie Savage is one of many demanding the Government take grass roots football into consideration when planning lockdown and tier system restrictions.
In Hampshire, there are over 1500 youth football teams, who, at times throughout this pandemic, have been left in the dark over what they can and can’t do due to COVID-19 restrictions. Since schools reopened in September, children have been able to mix with their classmates during the school day but, weren’t allowed to mix for recreational activities in their free time.
Travelling from one tier to the next for recreational purposes has been brought into question. For example, if a team from the Isle of Wight(Tier One) traveled to Portsmouth(Tier Two) for a football match, would this be allowed and would it be putting people at risk of the virus?
On Thursday 5th November, Oliver Dowden responded to MP Shaun Bailey in the House of Commons saying “I know that football clubs large and small make a huge contribution to their community on and off the pitch and, I can assure you my honourable friend they won’t be forgotten. As soon as we’re in a position to start lifting restrictions, grassroots sports will be one of the first to return.”
The day the UK went from national lockdown to the tier system when the Government released clear guidelines on the matter. These stated that organised outdoor sport is exempt from legal gathering limits across all levels, but modifications to high-risk activities should be made in tier three areas.
As for indoor sport such as Futsal, they are not exempt from legal gathering limits and must follow guidance and adhere to social distancing when not actively participating.
This will come as a relief for all teams across Hampshire who can resume playing after a bumpy, uncertain start to the football season.