'It's been far too long' - youth football teams look forward to restart

Beccles Town Youth Football host members of Dutch football club, Hoevelaken.

Beccles Town Youth Football host members of Dutch football club, Hoevelaken. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Youth football in Norfolk returns under tight guidelines next week, with only one family member allowed to spectate from the touchline.

Despite the restrictions many clubs say they are looking forward to playing again when lockdown is relaxed on Monday, March 29.

Chris Brown, chairman at Horsford FC, which runs girls and boys teams from under-5s to under-16s, says the club can't wait for the big kick-off after months away.

Mr Brown said: "We're all fully booked up, the PPE has all been purchased and we're all good and ready to go.

"It's been far too long so we're definitely looking forward to getting them back, our coaches have engaged with our players a lot during lockdown on Zoom.

"It's not been easy for some players but we've done our best."

New FA guidance will limited children to on the grass training, but headers will still be allowed in

Youth football is set to return next Monday. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

New FA guidance means clubs who use indoor venues will have to wait until May 17 to restart, with those restarting outside next week unable to use changing rooms.

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Players will only be able to visit the toilet 30 minutes before and after training and matches, with clubs urged to only travel to matches avoiding any unnecessary journeys.

The Norfolk Combined Youth Football League has decided to postpone its matches until the new year. P

The Norfolk Combined Youth Football League has decided to postpone its matches until the new year. Picture: Archant - Credit: Nick Butcher

Oliver Adams, who manages Aylsham FC's under-10 boys team, said he felt it was the right time to return to action adding that his players were excited to return.

His team will return to training next Tuesday ahead of nine remaining fixtures which will be played under the latest guidelines.

Mr Adams said: "Can't wait to get back out there, I think it's the right time to get back to it because they've been crazing to go back.

"My youngest is going mad, he can't wait to get back to playing football with all his friends.

"It's been very very tough for them during the pandemic, but they're all friends and they've kept in contact seeing each other at school and playing football."

Chris Chisholm, chairman at Cromer Youth Football Club and manager of their under-10 boys team, echoed Mr Adams, saying it was the perfect time to return.

The club, which offers football from under-5s to adult, is currently looking for volunteers to set up a girls and mixed gender team, has asked players to take the FA's free Playmaker course during the lockdown so they will be able to help with coaching in the future.

Mr Chisholm said: "It's good news for the kids, we're getting our risk assessments written up in line with the current guidance from the FA and getting the managers briefed and then we'll go from there.

"It's really positive, I think it's the perfect time because the schools have been back for three weeks now. It's great to be getting back because I think it's affecting everybody's health, but I think the young kids need the fresh air and to just lose themselves for 60 or 90 minutes to just forget it all and stop worrying."

Football action from the Cromer Youth Football Club tournament at Holt FC Ground - Cromer Superstars

Football action from the Cromer Youth Football Club tournament at Holt FC Ground - Cromer Superstars U10's vs Horsford U10's.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore

Alongside restrictions, the return has been made more difficult by the club's lack of facilities with few places to keep their equipment safely.

Mr Chisholm added: "Cromer youth hasn't got it's own facilities so it's horrible but credit to the committee who have worked tirelessly to rent five or six playing fields just to get kids playing.

"If we had our own home then we could go up there and get everything ready but we've got to go to East Runton, Cromer Academy, Southrepps and Bodham to set up.

"A lot of these pitches are public parks as well so it's just an added extra in trying to keep things Covid secure.

"It's hard but we do it and it's all about the kids at the end of the day, keeping them safe and making sure they're comfortable."

Anyone who can help the club with sheds or other forms of storage for equipment should contact them on their Facebook page.

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