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Essex grassroots football community welcome developments

PUBLISHED: 13:29 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:29 30 July 2020

A match ball during Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton, Premier League Football at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 6th July 2020

A match ball during Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton, Premier League Football at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 6th July 2020

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

The Essex grassroots football community are looking forward to a phased and cautious return to football after The FA’s confirmation that the UK Government had approved their plan for the resumption of outdoor forms of the game.

The FA announced the Government had approved their plans, meaning preparations for the start of the 2020/21 season can now be accelerated.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Essex FA have continued to support affiliated clubs, players, coaches, referees and volunteers so they can safely reintroduce training and matches.

Detailed guidelines have been published so football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of Covid-19. The FA would strongly recommend a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:

Until 31st July: when ready, clubs can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people.

From August: competitive matches can begin (i.e. pre-season fixtures, festivals and small-sided football competitions).

From September: grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA competitions can commence.

Clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers should initially fully familiarise themselves with the FA guidelines, accessible via www.essexfa.com, in addition to the latest Government guidance on Covid-19. The County FA would also like to draw special attention to the fact every club must:

Before Activity

Everyone should self-assess for Covid-19 symptoms (www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-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 guidance (www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection).

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 current ‘NHS test and trace’ protocols (www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works), such as keeping an attendance register.

Personal hygiene measures should be carried out by everyone and hand sanitisers 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.

Goal posts 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.

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Use of clubhouses, hospitality facilities, changing rooms and toilets must adhere to Government guidance (www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation). 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.

During Training and Match Play

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 via www.essexfa.com.

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 via www.essexfa.com.

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 (www.thefa.com/get-involved/matchday).

Small-sided football should include more regular hygiene breaks in activity and players should be discouraged from touching or tackling against boards.

After Activity

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 (www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-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 in place.

Anyone who becomes infected after training/matches should report this to the NHS test and trace system (www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works).

Full information on the return to grassroots football activity can be found at www.essexfa.com, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook. Essex County FA staff are also available to provide support as required.


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