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Everyone At Every Level Will Be Desperate To See A Return To Football

Date: 3rd June 2020

It’s great that there seems to be a pathway back to football for the Scottish Premiership. We are all hoping that the 2020/21 will kick off in early August. 

But it’s important that we remember that those at the grassroots level of the game will have to wait a bit longer, and that uncertainty will be hard for a lot of players, who play the game for the love of it. 

In recent years I have been very lucky, in this position, to go to a lot of community initiatives that are driven by football.  A few stick out and I feel the pain that they must be feeling as they miss their weekly games. 

I have been to a few Walking Football games down in Ayr and up in Fife. 

The Ayr United Football Academy hosted a few weekly games in Ayrshire. I was bowled over by how much the older guys loved kicking a ball about, just as I have throughout my life.  After the game I was able to speak to a few of the players and it was only then I got an insight on the huge benefits walking football was giving them.  A few had really serious health issues and the regular exercise helped them shift some weight and ease some of those health concerns.  It also provided them with a huge confidence boost in terms of their mental health.  Some of these men had lost partners and were lonely, Walking Football had given them a new lease of life as they were making new friends, enjoying regular banter and just talking to someone else that week. 

AM Soccer in Fife provides great footballing facilities for the whole community from toddlers to OAPs. In their Walking Football programme, they have male and female players playing together.  They play with smiles on their faces, and they also lose weight, as well as taking advantage of the social benefits.  It was also great to see that the charity offer games  both outdoors and indoors.

It is a real shame that at this moment these people will be missing their weekly game of football. 

Powerchair football is another wonderful project. I visited Clyde’s Powerchair football team a few years ago and I know they too will be desperate to be playing again.

I don’t think I have seen such a welcoming, passionate football team.  As a youngster I would play as a striker and loved scoring goals but I took it all for granted.  When one of the Powerchair players stated that they didn’t think they would get that feeling, it really brought it home to me.  They possess so much skill and technical ability, it was such a joy to watch them train.

Here’s hoping this pandemic can soon be brought under control and they too can get to enjoy their games again!

Finally I want to mention the Big Hearts protect ‘Kicking The Habit‘. 

It uses football as a way to encourage healthier habits. It is run by Big Hearts and local charity partners and it is a way to help those in recovery to get back to fitness, reduce self isolation and it too is for both genders. 

Again, a standout moment of my day there, was just seeing the smiles on the participant’s faces. People were just happy to be in each other’s company and just being on a football pitch and kicking a ball around. 

So while I am happy that top flight football is scheduled to return in August, I’m still hoping that all forms of football can comeback safely at some point this year!

As a game it can bring communities together and it can help give comfort and reason for those that might feel vulnerable, forgotten or lonely.  


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