Last weekend, we all got the news we have been waiting for – Grassroots football is back!
……however the return of our sport comes at a price and there are a number of conditions which everyone from the Club Chairman to the newest member of the U7 team has a duty and responsibility to sign up to so that we can all play the game in a safe and secure environment. We all need to work together to ensure we do not have one single avoidable additional death through any participants having a ‘don’t care, it won’t happen to us’ attitude.
I say from the Club Chairman down because The FA COVID-19 guidance focuses the main responsibility onto the clubs and their teams for the welfare of the participants and provide as safe an environment as possible. There is little/no responsibility for leagues to do anything however, that is not the way the YEL team work. We will continue to put out statements and messages and we will keep reminding people of their responsibilities. We would actively encourage all clubs/teams to report, via the Respect tab on Scoreline, any members of the YEL community who are NOT following the guidance that has been given. This is not ‘telling tales,’ this is serious – this deadly virus has not gone away and we each have a responsibility to protect each other to the best of our ability whilst we are playing/watching our beautiful game.
So, what do we need to do to ensure we start football safely and on time on the first weekend in September – Sat/Sun 5th/6th? There is a lot of very necessary admin required – YEL; County FA; Whole Games System; COVID-19 requirements set out in The FA Guidance.
YEL, County FA, WGS & COVID-19 Administration
AFFILIATION – By now ALL clubs should have started their affiliation. Any that haven’t are likely to seriously struggle to get their affiliation completed in time for the September start as the County FAs are struggling to process the volume of applications as many clubs have left it until they got the news that football was returning, to start the process! This coupled with the delays in DBS processing is causing huge issues.
TRAINING/FRIENDLY MATCHES – This message is straight from Notts FA/Derbys FA – Teams from clubs who have not started the affiliation process CANNOT CARRY OUT ANY FOOTBALL RELATED ACTIVITY, INCLUDING TRAINING, at the moment as they will not be insured. Teams can ONLY PLAY FRIENDLIES from 1st August provided their club have had their affiliation APPROVED/COMPLETED. Clubs at any other stage of the process must not allow their teams to play friendlies as they will not be insured. They may also be open to a charge by their County FA if any games do take place without their affiliation having been approved/completed.
PLAYER REGISTRATIONS – We can fully appreciate that many clubs are well behind with their player registrations. It is vital for clubs/teams to get their players signed up as soon as possible and registered onto Whole Game System. We currently have around 5,000 players registered on WGS out of an anticipated 16,000. It is a requirement that players are registered in order to play therefore we are requesting that you attempt to have this task completed as much as possible by August 16th so that we can assess which teams are viable and which ones aren’t. If you have 6 players ready to be added to WGS, please add them now. Do not wait until you have all of them ready to be added. This will be a massive help us in getting a feel for a team’s viability.
PITCHES FOR GAMES – We understand that some councils are still playing catch up in terms of opening up their pitch booking system. Likewise, some schools may be reluctant to allow outsiders to use their facilities as it would involve opening toilet facilities creating an additional risk. Can every team that does not have their own ground, please check and make sure the pitch you have put down on Scoreline (please update Scoreline if you haven’t added your pitch yet) is available AND handwashing/toilet facilities will be available for you to use. Please let the YEL Office know – message ‘Contact YEL Office’ via Scoreline – if you think you have a problem/if you have sourced a different ground. NB: FSM have pitches across Nottinghamshire available for friendlies from 1st August – check the YEL Facebook page for details. Finally, as part of your COVID-19 risk assessment, think about your venue/pitch capacity. Will you need to stagger your kick off times throughout the day to accommodate games safely? (Further details on KO times for mini soccer could be announced shortly)
ISSUES WITH THE ANTICIPATED START DATE – We are on track to have our league set up admin completed in the next four weeks in order to be ready for a September 5th/6th weekend start. There may be delays for some clubs/teams due to affiliation issues with County FAs. We are all only too aware of the impact of COVID-19 on returning to football. If any team is NOT ready due to pitch issues or simply because they have parent/personal concerns that it will not be safe to return on that date, please make us aware as soon as possible. All we ask is that you keep us informed as these decisions – which we fully support and respect – will have an impact on other members of the YEL community.
YEL FACEBOOK PAGE – This is a really useful tool for us to get league information and decisions out to people quickly. It is also a discussion page for members to share ideas. It is NOT a place to question/debate league decisions with the league administrators. Anyone who has an issue with a league decision should contact the YEL Office either by Scoreline message – ‘Contact YEL Office – or by email. Persons seen to be trying to undermine a league decision or questioning the integrity of league administrators/Directors of the company, will be automatically excluded from the page.
YEL ADMIN – Can all club secretaries please check that the information on Scoreline is complete and accurate. Check all club officials and team admins details are correct – name, email address and contact number. Ensure that each team has the correct venue that they play at listed on the team page. Remember any changes of Scoreline users details must be updated separately on WGS which feeds the information into Full-Time. THE YEL HAS NO ACCESS TO WGS/FULL-TIME so cannot update the information for you.
YEL CUP COMPETITIONS – We are in the process of offering 149 YEL teams the chance to complete last season’s Cup Competitions (probably more than any other league in the country). A few cup competitions have had to be cancelled due to the difficulty in getting them completed in the very tight window we have available in early September. It is a big task to plan so many competition matches for just over 10% of our teams. We ask EVERYONE to consider the wider difficulties involved in coordinating this and not just look at their own particular circumstances and, finally, to accept the decisions that have been made.
COVID-19 REQUIREMENTS – For those who have not read The FA Guidance, you can find access it via YELonline.com at the top of the home page. It is essential that everyone involved in your club reads this including all parents as they will have a part to play in making this a success. Below are some of the highlights – these are just some of the points that need considering (Not a full list):
- COVID-19 COORDINATOR – Every club must appoint a COVID-19 Coordinator who should complete a risk assessment for the facilities and for each team
- BEFORE EVERY GAME – a set of procedures must be gone through and adhered to including a risk assessment completed and shared with players and parents and a signed acknowledgement from the parent to confirm they have seen it, read it, understand it and are happy for their child to play based on its contents; each player must bring their own, named hand sanitiser and water bottle; social distancing is enforced on the touch line and on the managers/subs side of the pitch; NO Respect handshakes are carried out; All equipment including the ball must be sanitised; a track and trace list of all participants at the game – parents, players, managers, coaches – including name and contact mobile – should be created for each team and given to the home team manager prior to the game which should then be passed onto the Club COVID-19 Coordinator and kept for a minimum of 21 days.
- DURING THE GAME – if the ball goes out of play it cannot be retrieved by a spectator, it must be retrieved by a participant using their feet only; During any break – half time/water breaks – the ball should be sanitised; Goal celebrations are not allowed; unnecessary pushing/pulling at corners should be avoided; no handshakes at the end of the game; all strip should be washed by the individuals who wore it; no sharing of equipment – gloves, shin pads etc;
The above is a non exhaustive list so, again, it is essential that everyone reads The FA guidance – YELonline.com home page – and follows these common sense steps so that football can and will return safely.
ONCE THE SEASON STARTS – This season is going to look like no other season we have ever experienced before. We all have to work together to make it a success. There are likely to be new challenges along the way which we will all have to overcome – games may have to be postponed if we have a team caught up in a local lockdown; other issues may involve teams having to cancel and go into 14 day self isolation because a player, coach etc has tested positive for the virus; unforeseen new Government/FA guidelines. To be very clear, we do not intend to penalise any team that has to cancel due to these COVID-19 related issues. All we ask is that everyone makes every effort to get the season completed without compromising the safety and health of everyone else.
As a league, we will do our very best to make a success of the ‘new normal’ football for everyone this year however there is a possibility, at some stage, that we may need to introduce League Regulation 15 in order to get the job done. If this is introduced there may be winners and the odd losers as there were last season. We ask that everyone accepts this, without question, as it has been specifically designed to benefit the majority of teams.
Finally, provided all the administration is done and everyone in the YEL Community works together, we will have a football season and we will all continue to create happy memories for the players in a safe and secure environment.
Rob Harwood CEO
On behalf of the YEL Board
Friday 24th July 2020