CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Clubs swinging back into action

First training sessions since the lockdown as grassroots sport closes in on return

04 June, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Young boxers from St Pancras ABC training near the club’s gym

THE green shoots of grassroots sports are continuing to push their way through following the coronavirus outbreak.

Cricket, tennis, golf and even fishing have already returned – albeit with firm reminders about the importance of social distancing as part of “the new normal”.

And this week the FA released new guidelines that will help young footballers also get back to the sport that they love.

After the government’s easing of lockdown measures on Monday, training and fitness activities in groups of no more than six are now allowed, providing players keep two metres apart at all times.

It is even permissible for coaches to organise a session which has two or more groups of six, as long as they are kept separate. But playing any games – small-sided or using a full pitch – is still not permitted.

While this means that teammates can finally meet up again beyond Zoom and virtual training sessions, football coaches are not about to get carried away.

Thomas Looney, head coach at Kentish Town FC, said: “We are taking things really slow.

“We are looking to start up small training sessions in the coming weeks, where we will work on individual
techniques and fitness exercises to help our young players get their feet moving again.

“We will ask them to bring their own equipment and footballs where they can, and we will obviously sanitise any equipment that we use and make sure players wash their hands and stay two metres apart.

“The main goal is to give our players the chance to be more active and enjoy some outdoor exercise. However we’re not rushing back.

“We will review the situation every week and see how things unfold.”

Another much-loved sport in the borough is boxing. And while competitive bouts are a long way off, young boxers from St Pancras ABC have also been meeting up to train.

Saints’ head coach CJ Hussein said: “It’s really important, both mentally and physically, to give our kids the chance to get out of their bedrooms and exercising. We’ve got a park opposite our gym in Kentish Town, and twice a week we’re meeting up in small groups and, while socially distancing, putting them through their paces.

“It gives them something to look forward to, keeps them fit and gives them a chance to be around their teammates again. We even give them a packed lunch to take with them. We’ve been handing out the lunches for months and doing our best to support our kids at every opportunity.

“We’re a community club and it’s important that we help to look after our community when and where we can.”

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