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How will a second lockdown impact grassroots sport?

PUBLISHED: 18:03 01 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:38 01 November 2020

West Norfolk Rugby Club's impressive 2019/20 season was cut short by the pandemic. Picture: West Norfolk Rugby Club

West Norfolk Rugby Club's impressive 2019/20 season was cut short by the pandemic. Picture: West Norfolk Rugby Club

Archant

A fall in membership could result in grassroots sports clubs going by the wayside as they are forced to halt training and matches due to new lockdown measures.

Shaun Crowley, Chief Executive, Beccles Lido Limited. Picture: Terry HammondShaun Crowley, Chief Executive, Beccles Lido Limited. Picture: Terry Hammond

The government is urging people to take part in exercise outdoors but indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, dance studios, stables, climbing walls, archery, shooting ranges and gyms will have to close.

Shaun Crowley, chief executive of Beccles Lido, has written to Waveney MP Peter Aldous to ask for lidos to be made an exception again amidst fears swimmers not being able to return in December will see the business shut until spring.

Mr Crowley said: “All we ask for is a level playing field and the opportunity to do what we do well – which is provide an environment for Covid-safe, socially distanced, supervised swimming to deliver health, fitness and wellbeing to our loyal swimmers and employment for our fantastic lifeguards.

For West Norfolk Rugby Club, teams have been playing touch rugby as covid measures have curtailed contact rugby until at least January.

Graham Woodcock, chairman of West Norfolk Rugby Club, has spoken of the impact on grass roots rugby following the latest announcement. Picture: West Norfolk Rugby ClubGraham Woodcock, chairman of West Norfolk Rugby Club, has spoken of the impact on grass roots rugby following the latest announcement. Picture: West Norfolk Rugby Club

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On Friday, the RFU announced many competitive leagues will not resume until next spring or summer.

Club chairman Graham Woodcock said the club was in a good position but would have to shut its clubhouse, adding others might not be so lucky.

He said; “A lot of grassroots clubs will go by the wayside. It is not just rent to pay, clubs may well have loans into club redevelopment. The outgoings do not go away. Clubs may have had some support from local authorities and governing bodies in the initial lockdown, what is going to be available now? It’s very frustrating.”

The club has been following a phased return to playing American football. Picture: Norwich Devils WomensThe club has been following a phased return to playing American football. Picture: Norwich Devils Womens

Norwich Devils Women’s American Football team gained 10 new players after the initial lockdown but with the expected delay of the season to summer, head coach Nathan Evans said the club’s focus was on developing the new players until lockdown halted training.

He said: “There is a sense of frustration we were starting to build something quite special with this group. The new players have had a really positive impact, they have become very close very quickly as a team.

“Member retention is always a worry, anybody who is not as active in the group conversation you have to worry are they going to lose that enthusiasm.”


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