Get people active!” That’s the simple message from Leisure Leagues, the UK’s largest suppliers of small sided football leagues, as they urged the Government to get small sided leagues back on again.
Spokesman Andy Thorley said: the research tells us that 87% of people who play in our leagues were previously inactive and otherwise do no other form of exercise. Almost half of people who play with us are classed as at least mildly obese, and the research coming out from scientists more and more is telling us that it appears to be overweight to males who are most susceptible to Covid 19”.
Mr Thorley continued: “This means that whilst this very demographic is sitting at home doing nothing, they are getting less and less fit, and potentially further overweight. It makes obvious sense, particularly as six aside matches do not have spectators, to get competitive six aside leagues back on again and we are ready to do our bit to get our nation fit”.
“The Government needs to show everyone that it is not all about the money and pressure groups. You cannot allow Premier league matches to start, where players always have showers afterwards, and not small sided leagues, where players almost never have showers and go home straight afterwards. There needs to be some thinking about this”.
Leisure Leagues operates at over 500 sites across the UK, as well as internationally, and before lockdown had a playing membership of more than 500,000 players playing weekly.
Mr Thorley said: “We’ve literally got hundreds of thousands of people waiting to play again. These people will not go out for a run, and many are not interested in using expensive gyms. They simply want to go and play their once a week six a side match for a few pounds. We have got to start thinking now about the benefit of getting this number of people fitter, against the potential negative aspect of increasing infection rates. There needs to be an active discussion about it. The simple message is: “let us get people active!
Leisure Leagues has already taken steps to ensure that when there leagues are back on, people are as safe as they can be.
“We have introduced new rules which mean no player can come within 2 metres of a referee at any time, our staff must wear gloves, and we are no longer handing out bibs and warm up balls to teams. We have discouraged cash payments at our leagues and have expanded our online payment system to make it easier for people to pay online so they do not have to handle money on match nights”, said Mr Thorley.
“For years before lockdown everybody, including the FA, believed our rules and regulations in our leagues were too strict. Players were never allowed to go up to the referee, and we operated a policy, similar to rugby, where the referee could move play forward for any dissent. In the past this automatically meant that players getting close to each other, and the referee, to argue decisions, was virtually eliminated. Now these policies, which we have been using for years, will be absolutely crucial to how our leagues run when we get back going again”.
“We are also training our staff to ensure that they keep each team in their own group, and staggering our games so there is less chance of people being in larger groups on the pitches. In many respects six aside leagues will be a lot safer than our counterpart 11 aside leagues because we have the flexibility to do these sorts of things”.
“It is time to get our nation fit again”, said Mr Thorley. “In the long run obesity will cause more deaths than Covid 19. We target the very people who we need to protect from this dreadful disease. And getting them fit again, is an important and vital way forward to do this”.Back to Blog