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Coronavirus and Grassroots Football

24/03/2020

The whole of the country has been hit hard by Coronavirus and grassroots football is no exception. County FAs are recommending that all leagues and clubs postpone matches and training for the foreseeable future.

So, what can we as club volunteers do to make the most of this downtime? It’s uncharted territory, so here at MyClubPro - and with feedback from our member clubs - we thought we’d some put ideas together that may help inspire you:

Maintain communication

We live in a time of fantastic technology when it comes to communication and now is the time to stay in touch with your members. Relay any updates from your local league or County FA by utilising your website, email, social media and messaging platforms. But beyond informational updates, keep the “banter” going! We are all going to be spending large amounts of time at home so if you haven’t already, setup a team WhatsApp or Facebook group and help keep moral up.

Player fitness

With no training or matches and the prospect of football resuming at some point, how can we maintain player fitness levels at a reasonable level? On the days when you would usually have training or matches, set a workout task for your players. With current guidelines this could be a road or park run. For home workouts, think Joe Wicks style HIIT sessions which are free on YouTube.

However, working out alone is tough, so perhaps introduce a competitive edge! For example, ask players to use one of the many free run-tracking apps and set them say a 5km challenge, fastest time wins. Then maintain a fitness league table, another great moral booster for the WhatsApp group.

Pitch maintenance & repairs

After a very wet winter this is the perfect time to carry out much needed maintenance and repairs to your pitches while they have this rare opportunity to rest. This task ticks a lot of boxes for social distancing and gets you out in the fresh air. You’ll probably find you have more offers of help than usual with volunteers looking for an excuse to get out the house. Just make sure you all work at least two to four meters from each other.

If you need a little guidance on this one check out our episode of “That Grassroots Ramble” where we spoke to award-winning Groundsman Scott Byers:



Ditch paper and take processes online

One thing we come across a lot in our line of work is clubs who still rely heavily on paper-based systems and excel spreadsheets. Why? The usual answer is “Because that’s the way it’s always been and we don’t have time to put anything new in place”. Player registration, members database and club payments are all things that can be handled on your website, at least they can with our websites. Now would be a great time to get all these things in order without the usual distractions. If you want our help to do this, just get in touch or you can order a new website today by clicking here >>

Generate a little competitive fun!

Maintain a sense of club community with a weekly quiz published to your website. When researching this one, we came across a great website that provides sport quizzes that can be embedded directly into your web pages: https://www.sporcle.com/popular/today/sports

Opportunity

People within the club’s committee may have extra time on their hands, one thing to explore is using this suspension period as a chance to apply to become FA Charter Standard. There are loads of benefits once you do, including a discount off your MyClubPro package.
Find out more about becoming FA Charter Standard here >>

Funding

We are sure (or certainly hope!) they’ll be even more funding pots to come but check out these options for this season and looking ahead to the next one; whenever that may be!

Football Foundation >>
Sport England Small Grants >>
Community Asset Fund >>
Grow The Game Fund >>
Stay In The Game Fund >>

Support your community

During such unprecedented times football fades into insignificance when measured against all else. Yet, what we have seen reinforced in the past few days is the important role football plays in society. It has a galvanising effect at the epicentre of local communities.

There is opportunity to demonstrate commitment to those around your club with small and large gestures.

Below are a few great examples from the professional game. We have made some tailored suggestions for the grassroots community to try to replicate:

Watford mined their databases for contact details of supporters before launching the “Hornets at Home” initiative. The club contacted elderly and disabled fans asking whether they need help. They then put these supporters in touch with younger season-ticket holders willing to assist with shopping and domestic chores or simply engage in regular conversations.

Grassroots Equivalent - Can you reach out to local care homes and see if they would be interested in arranging calls with players involved in your set up? It’s a chance for young people to offer support to those most affected from social measures put in place. And who knows, when things settle, perhaps a visit could be arranged?

Manchester City and a number of clubs have donated provisions to homeless charities in recent days but there are also a number of Care Homes in need of support. Aware the residents are currently barred from receiving visitors, City sent up-lifting flowers to a local home.

Grassroots Equivalent - We don’t all have City’s budget but how about an idea to ask people of all ages within your club to create a handmade card or write a letter? These could be sent out to homeless charities or care homes to disperse or maybe a ‘Thank you’ letter to be given to NHS workers.

In Scotland, Stenhousemuir are trying to redress the significant damage to people’s mental health when placed in isolation. They have established a club hotline which matches volunteers, including suddenly unemployed club officials, to individual local needs. This ranges from tasks such as sourcing toiletries for an elderly household to walking the dog for someone in isolation.

Grassroots Equivalent - There is opportunity to engage volunteers. All those odd jobs you need done around the club. Now is the time! Get some engaging messages out there on social media and rally around to get your ground sparkling, ready for when football returns.

In conclusion

It’s a tough time with so much uncertainty but football has always provided so much more than just entertainment to our lives. It’s the backbone of so many communities in bringing people together. Even now when we all feel so far apart; grassroots football has the capacity to help get us through. Let’s support each other and use the power of grassroots football to support those around us as it always has.