Football on a COVID-19 pitch

This evening I dropped DS1 and DS2 to football practice.  COVID-19 protocol regarding sports here is ‘drop and go’.  Temperature check once they reach the sports fields, masks on, sanitised footballs, gelled hands and social distancing.

As I was just about to pull away having waved off my 2, another car pulled up and emptied its footie cargo – a team mate of DS2.  You could see the twitch of excitement when they saw each other; these days practically a novelty to see a peer outside of their own house. Reverting to type and induction they went in for the Club ‘fist pump’.  Just before they landed it, they simultaneously retracted their hands, visibly remembering the COVID-19 protocol of no contact.  Their facial expressions dropped (obvious even behind their masks) and they turned to walk (whilst socially distancing) through the school towards the football pitch.

This saddened me so much.  The club with which my boys train prides itself on many principles, one of which is greeting each and every squad member and coach at every training session.  It inspires camaradarie, respect, team spirit and unity.  The young and the shy footballers feel included and respected by the older boys whom they admire.  They all learn about the meaning of pride in their club and their squads whilst appreciating the discipline and hard work it takes to be a team player.

In today’s global health crisis, unfortunately this is no longer possible.  We knew this when sports were given the ‘green light’ to recommence after the general lockdown….but the impact of not being permitted to greet team mates/coaches with a form of handshake was not on anyone’s radar.

Combined with required social distancing, the football session has become more stilted, distracted, and almost robotic like.  No question; health and safety above all but here’s to getting back to a ‘normal’ some time soon.

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