Local grassroots football clubs welcome return to training

Croydon FC Home ground Pic: Croydon FC Facebook page

With the Premier League back in action behind closed doors next week, local grassroots football clubs have welcomed the go-ahead from the FA to resume training.

However, no date has been set for the resumption of non-league matches, which were halted in March.

Sessions for multiple groups of up to six players can now be coordinated. However, individual players and groups must be kept separate with “strict hygiene measures”.

Liam Giles, Croydon FC manager, who play at Croydon Sports Arena in the Southern Counties East Football League, told Eastlondonlines he was “happy to get back involved”.

Giles said: “It was nice to see them back on the training ground working hard, and even more so, enjoying themselves.”

“I took our first session in line with the government guidelines on Saturday which, for obvious reasons, took longer in planning and organising to make sure we stuck to the new guidelines.”

Giles expressed that everyone kept their distance, and there was plenty of “hand sanitiser available”.

Adapting to socially distant drills was “frustrating”. However, Giles said that COVID-19 is a much bigger issue, and his squad will respect the guidelines.

He later added that he hopes to “get back to some form of normality as soon as possible.”

“Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government wants grassroots football to return ‘as soon as we safely can’.”

The FA in their statement said: “We continue to work closely with DCMS and Sport England in order to set out good practice guidance for those responsible for delivering different aspects of grassroots football, and we will provide further updates as guidance information is shared.”

Nathan Joseph, Boston Celtics FC manager, who play at Hackney Marshes in the Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League, told ELL: “We will start training in groups of six from this coming Sunday.”

Joseph fortunately has “lots of PPE” as he works in health and safety for Grainger International, an industrial supplier.

The current restrictions require innovative solutions to keep the players “engaged and fit”, he added. Therefore he challenged the team to collectively run or cycle the 1242km round trip from Hackney Marshes to Celtic Park.

This is also to raise awareness and the necessary funds for blood cancer treatments. Their progress can be found on the Boston Celtics FC Instagram page.

Although it is unsure when non-league matches will return, all 92 remaining fixtures of the Premier League will be aired live on television. The first two matches – Manchester City-v-Arsenal and Aston Villa-v-Sheffield United will take place on June 17. Crystal Palace will play Bournemouth on June 20, the first ever Premier League match to be shown live on BBC. In the Championship, Millwall will host Derby County at The Den on the same day.

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