Over recent weeks we have been conducting a survey for those aged 13 to 18 that are currently involved in football within the East Riding. We wanted to know how these young people have been feeling during the current climate and what they wish to see when grassroots football returns so that we can help allay any worries that young people may have.
With the fixture programme set to re-commence this weekend, we felt that now was the time to share this information and pass on the thoughts of the young people in our region.
The information included below gives us the the answers to the seven questions that were posed during the survey. The responses were largely positive although not conclusive and do provide us as a County FA and those who administer the game at club and league level food for thought.
Whilst the figures given are as a percentage, this tells us that of the 161 children that have responded, 94 are aged between 13-15 with 67 replies from 16-18 year old.
As expected, the number of young people in the game mainly take part as a player with 148 taking part in the survey.
We have 6 Referees, 4 coaches and 3 young people that have other positions within football, making up the specifics of the range of roles.
This chart tells us that 50 of those completing the survey are resilient to the Covid:19 pandemic which has affected virtually everyone in some aspect during the lockdown.
It also informs us that 111 of those 13-18 year olds have experienced some concerns in terms of their well-being. Whilst I’m sure we’ll do everything possible from our perspective to support the children within football, I’m certain that others outside of football will be offering the same support needed to address any other concerns, again however, we still need to be conscious that 2 out of 3 children have been affected by the lockdown.
From a football viewpoint, it’s pleasing to see that 107 have missed the game over recent months and implies that football plays a big part of those children’s lives, something we are certainly aware of and the positive impact football can be on an individual’s well-being.
In addition to this, 42 have told us that they are missing the game, but they recognise that there are more pressing issues outside of football. 11 have told us that they miss playing football a little and 1 young person hasn’t really missed the game at all.
A clear indication that the social aspect of football is integral to a young person’s enjoyment of the game or could even been the main reason why they engage in this or any other sport. 85 told us that they miss their friends and teammates. Another 52 informing us of the significance football plays in their expectations.
It also indicates the importance of being physically active with 52 missing the bodily demands and exertions of being involved in a sport. We also had 1 that missed nothing during the lockdown and this young individual was also the person that hadn’t missed football in the previous question.
It’s really reassuring to see that 188 of those respondents have no worries regarding the return to play football. But we do have 43 children which equates to 1 in 4 that still have some concerns or worries about returning so would ask our leagues and clubs what are they doing in terms of supporting the children to dispel the young people’s apprehensions of fears?
The FA, in addition to the government’s policies and restrictions, has issued their own guidelines on a safe return to football, which were published only last week.
As you can see from the last survey question, whilst 85 of the respondents don’t feel anything needs to change in what we are doing, 76 have basically issued their own guidance to a safe return.
This information runs virtually parallel with the guidance sent by The FA for a safe return, however, it was gathered from the children well before that was issued, so the young people are very knowledgeable in that respect and already pre-empting what is safe.
With that information in mind, we think a unified approach to ensuring that the numbers of parents attending, social distancing and the use of sanitising equipment, as the children have indicated and is part of the return to football guidance, is communicated to all out teams and clubs prior to the weekend and think about how this can be monitored over the coming weeks as the fixtures return.
We all have our part to play to minimise any threat to prevent another escalation of the pandemic, however just as importantly, we’ve asked the children for their thoughts and they’ve shared their excitement at football returning and what it means to them but also their worries and concerns.
We all, County FA, Leagues, Clubs and their teams along with all the parents and spectators should respect that and not just listen but act, to ensure we meet the needs of those young people within the game who place their trust in us.
We would urge all clubs, leagues and parents / carers to familiarise themselves with the FA Respect programme.
We hope this information is useful to ensure we recognise both the mental and physical well-being of all of the children involved in the game.