A Northamptonshire county FA official has expressed reservations about amateur football being allowed to return from March 29.
Many grassroots football clubs have had their seasons put on hold due to the two national lockdowns. But it was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on February 22 that amateur leagues could resume from the end of March.
Christian Smith, partnerships manager at the Northamptonshire FA, said: “I was part of a Women and Girls’ League meeting (on January 22) on Teams. The immediate reaction was: ‘what are we allowed to do? Can we extend the season? How many games have teams got left to play?’
“We’re talking about March 29, but you’ve got to get them back in training, you’ve then got the Easter weekend and there not being any games played on that weekend, so you’re looking at almost the middle of April before teams can get back playing matches.
AUDIO: Christian Smith discusses the potential issues that may come with extending the season
“Some teams have got 18 matches left. Then you’ve got the issue of suitable pitches. Once you go beyond May, some football pitches turn into cricket pitches.
“(Despite that) The feeling from the meeting was that they were desperate to get the season finished, they wanted the girls to be playing.
“The most important thing is safety of everyone and getting people out there to play football because we’ve all been in lockdown for far too long.”
“As a County FA it’s important we try to educate clubs for the things to identify as (mental health) problems before they start.”
Christian Smith – Northamptonshire FA
Smith also discussed some of the potential issues with people’s mental health and wellbeing that may occur after the end of lockdown and how important it is for the County FA to help tackle this problem.
“Mental health has been an issue and will continue to be an issue for some time. It’s difficult to understand what impact it will have on people in the long term.
“One thing we did see when football returned for Christmas was a big increase in poor behaviour on touchlines and aggressive behaviour towards referees.
“This rose exponentially and it was mostly adult behaviour. I think there is a correlation for being inside for quite some time and going out to support your children and tensions are running high.
“As a County FA it’s important we try to educate clubs for the things to identify as (mental-health) problems before they start.”
Northamptonshire FA. has introduced a ‘Club Covid Care Tool Kit’ to help clubs and parents preserve the physical and mental health of children throughout the lockdown.