Sport is coming back! Halleljuah!
PGA Tour golf has returned, and Premier League and Championship football is back along with major leagues across Europe. For us sports fanatics, this is like manna from heaven. But with elite and professional sport inching back to action across the globe, grassroots sports people up and down the country are left wondering when they’ll be able to play a match or even simply get involved in some form of training. When do we get to join in?
As lockdown restrictions gradually ease, with a significant lifting of certain restrictions this Saturday (4th July) – rightly or wrongly – more and more sports are now tentatively restarting again at grassroots level, with carefully-devised plans in place to keep us all safe. Some sports are kind of back, some not quite yet – so we’ve rounded up as much info as we can for you to find out the latest about your sport and when, and how, you can expect to return.
The England & Wales Cricket Board has published its roadmap for the return of recreational cricket – as well as a few resources for potential financial help. It currently allows small groups of up to six to play, provided, of course, they remain socially distanced. They advise outdoor nets are used on an ‘every other’ basis, so at least one net is left free between each net being used.
Players are advised to use their own equipment and, if there is any sharing, to thoroughly wash their hands. They have been strictly told that no saliva or sweat should be applied to the ball. Clubs should also mark out socially distanced queuing systems in nets.
Groundskeepers are encouraged to get their pitches and facilities ready for action, despite all competitive grassroots cricket remaining suspended for now. Indoor nets and official caching courses are currently also suspended. As we write, there is increasing hope that indoor sports facilities will be reopened from July – albeit on a restricted basis.
The most recent easing of lockdown restrictions now allow people who play contact or team sports like football to practice in groups of up to six, but ongoing social distancing rules mean no matches or physical contact. Many clubs have returned to training on that basis and remain so until further notice.
Amateur leagues, however, have yet to receive any definitive guidance on a return to competitive fixtures — although provisional planning for a September restart is well underway.
All outdoor water sports were permitted again when the first phase of lockdown restrictions were eased back in May – and this included open water swimming, provided that social distancing was maintained.
Some outdoor lidos have also now reopened. Indoor swimming pools remain closed, and will not feature among the July 4th wave of lifted restrictions. Proposals for any future reopening include arriving ‘ready to swim’, showering at home pre and post-swim, limits on numbers, so there is no more than one person in a pool per three square metres, and that children are accompanied by a maximum of one adult at a time. But for now, alas, swimmers must wait.
Athletics tracks were reopened earlier this month at the discretion of the local operators and some limited club activity has resumed.
England Athletics has also produced guidance for individual and paired training or coaching following the latest easing of lockdown measures, and have published a potential framework to resume more traditional club and group activity, with a view to again staging some socially distanced competition. The proposals begin with club activity in July, before potentially moving towards regional, national and international competition.
Outdoor netball courts reopened last month and players can again practice in groups of up to six, subject to social distancing.
England Netball have responded to the latest easing of lockdown, and is exploring versions of the sport that would involve reduced numbers before potentially returning to the full seven-a-side game later this year. As with other sports, September is slated as a realistic target for the sport to potentially resume at grassroots level.
Avoiding close contact with others is easily achievable in archery, and as such Archery GB have left it to the discretion of individual clubs on whether or not to resume, assuming clubs can meet all of the eight steps – in keeping with and outlined in phase one of their guidance on returning to action.
Hockey authorities have drawn up a five-step plan to return after groups of six were again permitted to train outdoors, with the usual social distancing caveats applied. According to their roadmap, hockey’s next step would next involve small group training and some tackling and marking. This would be followed by local match play. Hockey is currently at Step Two of its roadmap and specific guidance includes no sharing of equipment and only touching balls with your stick during training.
Outdoor greens already reopened in May and bowlers can again play, subject to social distancing. Indoor sports are currently drawing up proposals to potentially return in July and, with bowls easily able to be played with social distancing observed, along with no sharing of equipment, there is a hope that indoor rinks will also reopen this summer. Players must, of course, thoroughly wash their hands before and after touching any shared equipment, such as mats and jacks, and that players should only touch their own bowls. That’s *bowls*…!
Dance and fitness
There is a hope that gyms and classes will reopen next month and, while numbers would be limited inside studios and social distancing would have to take place, that classes could also then resume. If possible, markings would be drawn on studio floors to provide designated areas for users. Additional time would also be built in so that studios could be thoroughly cleaned between activities and that there would be a 10-minute window between classes to avoid waiting around in groups.
Combat sports and martial arts
Although sparring and contact is now permitted at elite level in combat sports, subject to Government guidelines, amateur participants are currently a great deal more limited. People can now congregate again outdoors in groups of six, provided that they remain socially distanced, meaning that some form of fitness training and shadow boxing could be done. Gyms could also potentially reopen in July, although this would initially involve social distancing and thoroughly wiping down any shared equipment after each use.
Tennis was one of the first sports to resume, back in May, but players in England are now again able to resume doubles with people from outside of their own household, as well as sharing tennis balls.
Two metre social distancing rules must still be applied at all times, although the new guidance is caveated with “as far as possible”.
Although players do not now need to clearly mark their own tennis balls, they have been told that “extra care must be taken to ensure you do not touch your face during play, and you should clean your hands before play and immediately after finishing”.
Much of the guidance revolves around common sense – regarding washing hands, keeping distance, not touching your face etc. If we can all stick to these common sense guidelines, the chances of sport returning on a much fuller and more ‘normal’ basis will improve greatly. We hope you’re all staying safe and back in sporting action as soon as possible!
KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF CUSTOM TEAMWEAR
KUDOS supplies made-to-order teamwear to a range of sports clubs across the globe. We supply bespoke custom kit that is built for performance and worn with pride. Use our one minute kit designer to design your kit today.