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News Archive > General > Young footballers ready to return with Bodmin Youth

Young footballers ready to return with Bodmin Youth

By Tom Howe 24th March 2021

Young footballers ready to return with Bodmin Youth
Youth football will return to the Bodmin area once the Government’s lockdown restrictions ease on Monday, March 29

The next generation of footballers in the Bodmin area will be able to step back out onto the pitch next week following an easing of lockdown restrictions.

Both adults and children’s football can return from Monday (March 29), as per a Government roadmap announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, with the 2020-21 grassroots season being extended until the end of June in order to provide additional flexibility and time for leagues to complete their fixtures should they wish to do so.

Bodmin Youth offers footballing opportunities for up to 250 young players and base their 17 teams between Callywith College, Coldharbour and Priory Park.

Women’s and girls secretary, Lee Morford, told the Voice the return has been met with a large amount of positivity and is hoping a number of fears regarding the future of youth football can be allayed.

“Our current understanding is that football is back on March 29,” he explained. “We are desperate to be back. We have got 17 teams at the minutes and everybody is keen to be back. We were quite nervous, particularly with the older boy’s age groups, about player retention but all the feedback so far is that everybody is keen to be back involved.

“We have coaches who have been in contact with the parents and kept them updated. We plan to be back that first week which is good news. The East Cornwall Youth League have said they are returning to football. We are still waiting for them to confirm exactly how that is going to work but I think the assumption is that they will try to return and complete leagues rather than scrapping them and starting again with some sort of Champions League style format.

“We have one team who play in the Kernow Youth League so obviously they are not too happy. That is one of our under-13 teams. They are a bit gutted but are building up a friendly programme. Obviously then we have our girls teams and have three playing in the Cornwall Girls League which is returning on April 18. We also have one team, our older girls at under-16s, who play in the DJM which is coming back as well in a reduced format.

“Most leagues only fixture teams every couple of weeks so it’s not like there are leagues with huge backlogs of fixtures. By continuing through until the end of June things can be finished so fingers crossed. Everybody just seems desperate to get a bit of normality back into kid’s lives. I think the return to school has probably taken a bit longer to seem normal because it is so stop-start. You’re in one day and not another, that kind of thing. We see that football is the next step towards normality. If they have had two or three weeks of being back at school then they can get back to doing whatever sport they play. It is really important to get them back to that.”

“It is not so much about results, leagues or tables, that kind of stuff,” continued Morford.

“It is getting kids back playing because, otherwise, how is youth football going to be impacted come September when teams suddenly can’t find players because they are all playing computer games instead? Our chairman was very focused on getting everyone back but equally results are second to making sure that things do return.”

As well as his role within the Bodmin Youth set-up, Morford is also secretary of the Cornwall Girls League itself, and says they are working with Cornwall FA’s womens, girls and disability football development officer, Vicky Fisher, to protect the future of the female game in the area.

“We were very determined to make sure that, because of the effort that goes into girls football from the FA and Cornwall FA, they put so much into the girls game and if we didn’t return to football next month it would be a mess in September. It will be a huge shame to lose - and I’m sure we would lose - an awful lot of girls.

“Generally it is positive. Again, it’s not as much about the results, league tables and that kind of stuff but more about getting the girls back. In the Cornwall Girls League we only have four age groups, under-9s, 11s, 13s and 15s. It is only the 13s and 15s who play in competitive leagues. Those teams, we felt, are of an age where the girls want to play competitive football and are keen to not miss out on another season.

“We are focused, particularly working with Vicky, on giving playing opportunities to our under-9s and 11s. They are not playing in competitive leagues so a lot of it will be small festival formats of three or four teams rather than just one team playing another. That is basically to try and maximise things. They have missed out on so much football and if you can convince an eight or nine-year-old girl that she wants to play football, then you need to nurture them and give them every opportunity.

“That seems to have been well received by the clubs. We will work with the teams and have said you can play your games away or, if you don’t want to play, then don’t play. We are not into penalties or fines and stuff like that if they don’t complete the fixtures. It is all about flexibility and getting people back.”

By Tom Howe 24th March 2021

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