By Daniel Wood
The FA have released guidelines for the re-starting of outdoor competitive grassroots football. Their aim is to keep clubs, players, coaches, club officials, match officials, league officials, volunteers, and spectators safe when it returns.
Their new guidelines outline actions to be taken before, during and after all competitive grassroots football activity in England and it is in conjunction with the latest UK Government Covid-19 guidance.
They have stressed that in outdoor competitive training and matches, physical contact is now allowed. However, for all other activities like warm-ups and cool downs, social distance guidelines must be put into place.
Guidelines that must be followed before activity are:
- Everyone should self-assess for Covid-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual Covid-19 infection you must not participate or attend. You should stay home and follow the latest Government advice.
- Clubs/facility providers should appoint a Covid-19 officer and conduct a thorough risk assessment before re-opening or re-starting competitive activity. They should also follow the current ‘NHS test and trace’ protocols, such as keeping an attendance register.
- Personal hygiene measures should be carried out by everyone and hand sanitiser brought and used at the training/match venue.
- The sharing of kit and equipment should be avoided, but where equipment is shared, it must be cleaned before use by another person.
- Goalposts and corner poles should be wiped down before matches, after matches and at half time.
- Follow Government guidance for travel, including minimising use of public transport.
- Active participants should arrive changed and ready to take part.
- Youth team coaches should re-acquaint themselves with all safeguarding policies and procedures.
- Meet-up times should be adjusted to avoid time spent congregating at a venue.
- Use of clubhouses, hospitality facilities, changing rooms and toilets must adhere to Government guidance.
- Anyone who is deemed vulnerable in respect of Covid-19 is reminded to follow the Government’s guidance, only returning to football when it’s right for them to do so.
Guidelines that must be followed during training and match play are:
- Competitive training can take place for all participants, in an outdoor setting provided this takes place in groups of no more than 30 (including coaches).
- Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the session, and in any breaks in play.
- The sharing of kit and equipment should be avoided, and participants should bring their own drinks or refreshments, in named containers.
- When the ball goes out of play, it should not be retrieved by non-participants and should be retrieved using the feet rather than the hands where possible.
- Participants must not spit and should avoid shouting or raising their voices when facing each other, as detailed in The FA Covid-19 Code of Behaviour.
- Set plays: players are encouraged to avoid unnecessarily long set-up or close marking. Other modifications apply to specific situations, such as goal celebrations being discouraged. Read more in The FA’s more detailed guidance here.
- Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training.
- Observing rigorous hygiene standards, injuries can be treated. See full guidance here.
- Spectator groups should be limited to six people per group and spread out in line with wider Government guidance.
- Match fee payments should be cashless – consider using The FA Matchday App.
- Small-sided football should include more regular hygiene breaks in activity and players discouraged from touching or tackling against boards.
The guidelines that should be followed after activity are:
- Hands should be washed at the earliest opportunity and personal equipment should be wiped down with a disinfectant.
- Unless absolutely necessary, participants should take their kit home and wash it themselves, or by family members. Post activity showers should be taken at home.
- Everyone must continue to maintain social distancing including in any facilities where groups of people congregate (e.g. clubhouses).
- Everyone should leave following the traffic-flow system the club or facility provider has put place.
- Anyone who becomes infected after training/matches should report this to the NHS test and trace system.
Huddersfield and District Association Football League was cancelled after way through the 2019/20 season due to Covid-19 and once their 2020/21 kicks off, they must follow the FA’s guidelines.
The 2020/21 season will feature the same teams as last season for each division, as nobody was promoted or relegated.
The standings for each division are as follows:
|1||AFC Dalton FC First|
|2||Brook Motors First|
|3||Deighton FC First|
|4||Grange Moor Saints A.F.C. First|
|5||Hade Edge A.F.C. First|
|6||Kirkburton FC First|
|7||Laund Hill FC Reserves|
|8||Meltham Athletic First|
|9||Moorside FC First|
|1||Brighouse Athletic FC First|
|2||Cartworth Moor A.F.C. First|
|4||Holmfirth Town FC First|
|5||Kexborough Chiefs F.C.First|
|6||Marsden FC First|
|8||Saddleworth United FC First|
|9||Wooldale Wanderers A.F.C. First|