Following The FA’s recent announcement regarding the ability for small group training to commence, there has understandably been a desire from a number of clubs and individuals to re-commence sessions, in line with The FA Guidance

As a County FA we understand this eagerness as we recognise this is seen as the first cautious and positive step towards the return of the grassroots game.  

At the same time we have also received a number of queries and questions regarding this announcement as clubs and individuals, like ourselves, are considering how guidance can be implemented within clubs.  This due diligence is essential as Sport England themselves have stated that they encourage all organisations with a role in this to take time to look at how they can operate effectively and safely within the six-person limit, while strictly adhering to public health guidance around hygiene and social distancing.

We would urge all clubs to give this appropriate consideration whilst stressing that the decision to re-commence with these small group training sessions is one for clubs and organisations to take, and if clubs/organisations feel that the risk is too great, or it is too soon to commence with these sessions, then that is fine and understandable. 

For those clubs/organisations that feel they are in a position to recommence then steps should be taken to strictly adhere to the FA guidance giving due consideration for the operational implementation of the guidance based on the club’s individual circumstances (e.g. own ground, public park etc.) to ensure a safe environment is created for all involved.

The FA are currently working on further detailed guidance to assist in this process and we will continue to communicate and share this with you as this is released. 

In the interim period, as well as the FA guidance we have also reviewed Sports England and Government Advice and would ask that clubs also consider the following areas: 

Insurance 

We have had it confirmed from our recommended insurance partners, Bluefin Sport, that clubs and organisations who are affiliated for the 19-20 season, will be covered from a Public Liability (PL) and Personal Accident (PA) perspective.

This will cover training, so long as guidance is followed, and those benefits included in your package. We are continuing to have ongoing liaison with Bluefin as guidance in this area evolves. Bluefin will be coming back to us with any additional guidance and advice.

If you have your own PL and/or PA insurance with a different broker/company then we would suggest you make contact with them to discuss this as soon as possible.

Risk Assessments 

The advice states that you must ‘conduct a thorough Risk Assessment’ before engaging in any sessions, particularly looking at how you would implement the guidance in your own individual settings, as well as including any ‘particular considerations for U18s and Vulnerable Adults’. 

We have asked both The FA and Bluefin for additional guidance and a potential template with regards to this area. 

General Health and Hygiene Considerations 

In line with Government advice you should consider: 

•         Ensuring that any member who is symptomatic or living in a household with someone who has possible or confirmed Covid-19 remains at home. 

•         If individuals have been asked to isolate by NHS ‘Test and Trace’ or they are considered as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, then they should follow the specific advice for these groups, further advice can be found here

•         All parties should wash their hands thoroughly before and after sessions 

•         Use hand sanitiser at intervals 

•         Once home, all parties, should remember to wash your hands 

•         Children, particularly younger ones, are not always great at hygiene. So special attention should be paid to children’s hand hygiene. 

•         More advice can be found here 

Facility Considerations

We understand that The FA will release some further guidance for facility providers. 

However, for now and in line with Government advice you should consider:

If the facility is not yours:  

•         If the facility you use is not yours then check in advance that the facility has re-opened and/or you have permission to use this site.

•         Understanding the facility requirements and terms of use 

If you have your own facility: 

•         Is your facility ready for training (e.g. has it been cut, are there pitch renovations due to be undertaken etc.)?

•         What will you be realistically and safely able to deliver (in terms of numbers/groups etc) given the facility you have (including car parking, playing facilities, cross over times of people arriving and leaving etc)? 

•         Communicate how and when people can safely arrive and leave the facility giving consideration for flows of movements to minimise cross overs

•         If you have your own facility with changing rooms and facilities, then other than toilets and through ways, this should remain closed. 

•         Additional cleaning will be required in these areas when accessing and leaving the facility e.g. wipe down areas on contact, additional hand washing/sanitising facilities, use of paper towels where possible etc.)

•         Consider the need for additional signage 

•         Additional Government advice can be found here 

Communications 

There is an obvious need to clearly communicate with all relevant parties and therefore the following guidance should be considered: 

•         Need to communicate clearly and regularly with members – setting out what you are doing to manage risk 

•         Ascertain the desire of coaches/parents/participants to attend these sessions.  Do you have enough interest to make these sessions practical?

•         Communicate how and when people can safely arrive and leave the facility giving consideration for flows of movements to minimise cross overs

•         Consider and Communicate whether or not there will be a charge for these sessions?  Some clubs may have stopped memberships/subscription fees.  Will the club require additional funding to support the implementation of these guidelines and/or to support the financial viability of the club? 

Safeguarding 

The following areas should be taken into consideration for all U18’s and Vulnerable Adults:

•         Must continue to comply with FA Safeguarding Policies and Procedures 

•         Consent must be gained from parents/carers (we have asked whether this needs to be specific and new consent)

•         Parents/Carers should ensure that they are in sight of the session 

•         Parents/Carers are responsible for the supervising of their children at all times and to reinforce the guidelines for social distancing etc. themselves. 

•         Consideration to the treatment of injuries (we have asked for further advice on recommended procedures) but coaches are unlikely to be able to attend to injuries due to social distancing 

•         Consideration of tying of shoe laces (again coaches are unable to attend to this due to social distancing)

•         Consideration of the psychological impact that this may have had on children and how coaches/clubs will connect with players before starting back.  Outlining what will happen at training and provide them with a sense of safety. 

•         The FA are working on additional guidance for Club Welfare Officers and this will be shared as soon as possible with all CWO’s. 

Travel Considerations 

The following should be considered around travel to and from sessions:

•         You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside of your household

•         Must consider using all other forms of transport before using public transport  

•         Further guidance can be found here

Practical Coaching Considerations

Guidance does allow you to meet and train, but the following must be adhered to and/or considered:  

•         Must follow the guidance outlined by The FA here 

•         It is essential that groups must be made up of no more than 6 people and everyone must remain 2M apart at all times. All groups must be wholly separate from each other.

•         Consideration should be given as to how this will be managed e.g. designated areas etc 

•         Groups can practice ball skills like passing and kicking.  

•         Careful Planning will be required around the sessions to ensure that they remain age appropriate, engaging, developmental and fun (we will be looking to share practices over the next few weeks to assist with this).  

•         Equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum (ideally players should bring their own ball, water bottle etc and have designated areas to put any of their own items), 

•         If a coach is providing equipment so these are being shared/re-used then please ensure that they have been thoroughly cleaned before, between and after sessions.

•         Further guidance is still required regarding specific advice for Goal Keepers, but all keepers should use their own gloves and ensure that these have been thoroughly cleaned before, during and after sessions – along with all other hand hygiene advice.

•         Further advice for coaches can be found here

The FA continues to work closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Sport England in order to provide good practice guidance for those responsible for and wishing to commence with delivering different aspects of grassroots football and we will share further information as soon as possible.

It is important that the above considerations are discussed at Club level to ensure that a collective decision is made and to ensure that if you wish to commence with sessions that these can be done in a safe manner. 

If you wish to discuss any of the above in more detail then please contact the Essex FA Development, Coach Education, Safeguarding or Governance Teams in the normal way via email or telephone.

From all at Essex FA, stay safe.

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