More than 70 football league businesses across the UK – who provide sport for in excess of 250,000 people have written to the government to ask them to allow grassroots sport to be played in the British Isles.
Community, grassroots football was paused in November, when Boris Johnson announced his month-long so called “circuit breaker” lockdown 2, amidst rising cases of Covid 19.
Now, the business owners have signed a joint letter to Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, urging a more nuanced approach.
Leisure Leagues Partner Support Manager, Jon D’Arcy explained why and said: “No one wants to see the NHS overwhelmed, but this lack of focus on wider fitness is creating a time bomb that is going to explode in the future.
“Our customers – the players in our leagues – are otherwise inactive, and this is damaging both their health and our business. In addition to the quarter of a million players, we employ over 1000 referees and supervisors.”
The irony, added Jon was these lockdown measures were causing untold problems for the very people they were designed to protect: “The Prime Minister himself – after his illness in the spring – remarked on the damage that the obesity crisis was doing to the UK. Very often, for our players, this football is the only exercise they get week to week. It is truly terrifying to think of the issues it will cause down the line for the nation.”
This extended beyond physical issues too, as Jon elaborated: “Studies show just how beneficial for mental health it is to play sport. At a time when people are literally being isolated away from their friends, and with the dark nights and weather worsening, people’s mental state could be so much more improved by football, which is why we are urging Minister Huddleston to do something to ease the situation.”
Leisure Leagues are a registered not for profit organisation, and had taken more steps than were required to be Covid safe, including no cash handling, no bibs, no training balls and have full risk assessments in place.
This had all resulted in a record month for the firm in September, with more teams joining than in any other month in their 30 year history. Now, Jon called on the minister to allow the kick off again: “We are ready to go,” he said. “Just give the word and we can help the nation get fit again.”
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