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News Archive > Sport > Measures put in place to see all forms of football flourish

Measures put in place to see all forms of football flourish

By Tom Howe 20th January 2021

Measures put in place to see all forms of football flourish
Vicky Fisher, Cornwall FA’s Womens, Girls and Disability Football Development Officer, (above, centre)

Despite provisions in place to continue under lockdown conditions, Cornwall FA’s Vicky Fisher has revealed the county’s disability programme remains on hold to protect players’ safety.

Fisher, responsible for the development of disability football within the Duchy, told the Voice that all fixtures and festivals have been cancelled since March 2020, when lockdown restrictions were first implemented to combat covid-19.

Current guidelines allow organised outdoor sport for disabled people to continue, with Sport England arguing that stopping would cause a ‘disproportionate impact’ and that ‘it’s vital we do as much as possible to keep these opportunities accessible’.

However, Fisher explained a percentage of disabled players in the county were at high risk from coronavirus and therefore shielding, with clubs doing what they could to suit the individual needs of their members while training and matchplay is suspended.

“Disability football is an odd one because technically it has been allowed to happen all the way through because of the needs of participants,” said Fisher.

“However, certainly in our county, the majority of those participants would have been shielding throughout so there has been no specific disability provision since the very first lockdown back in March last year.

“No fixtures or festivals have happened. They are such a vulnerable group and I think nobody wanted to take that chance. A couple of the clubs managed to get back and do some training sessions, however.

At St Agnes Disability, their adults went back and managed to do some group of six sessions socially distanced.

“I think it is [the feeling] across the whole game in Cornwall now. What is more important? Staying safe or playing football? When that is the case for our senior men’s and women's teams, it is no surprise that it filters down to the disability game. Football is a hobby and is fun but it isn’t everything. For our disability players, it is an absolute lifeline in terms of that
social side but, when you have got health issues to think about as well, it is understandable.

Lots of our work at the County FA is supporting our clubs and our leagues. Each club will know their players better than us because of their individual needs.”

During the lockdown, these clubs have tried different things to keep in touch with their players. St Agnes, for example, held a ‘keep fit challenge’ where each of their players did workouts from home and logged mileage as they did so.

Other clubs in the county include Troon, Penzance and Launceston as well as a new group based out of Carn Brea. There is also a powerchair club, a central team representing Cornwall, who ply their trade in a regional league and play their games in Newquay.

Fisher used the example of another team, this time based in the St Austell area, to illustrate just how the virus has affected things over what is almost a 12-month spell.

“St Austell Dragons Dis-Ability FC transitioned last summer to become part of Foxhole Stars Football Club but obviously haven’t had the chance to play yet under their new heading.

“The club was going to fold and we felt Foxhole had a good ethos within their club in terms of youth provision, adult sections and are really inclusive. They were keen to take them on and rebrand them and have been taking training sessions when they have been able to.

“[Our message] is consistent and that is our manner of dealing with the game in Cornwall. Everyone is treated equally.

“If you feel it is safer for you not to play, even though there might be dispensation for you to do so, then that is the right thing for you.

“We all want to see football taking place in Cornwall but only if it is right for everyone involved. The game is really fragile. It is going to need a lot of support and nurturing to get back up and running. “We are really keen to get those festivals back up and running and these guys back out onto the pitch.

“It is literally about waiting for restrictions to ease and knowing where we stand. There is a plan in place to get football on for these guys, we just need some advice on when that is going to be.”

Fisher’s role extends to women's and girls football within Cornwall and she was quick to point out that both aspects, as well as the disabled game, are showing signs of positive development pre- and post-covid.

“We have had lots of conversations with the girls leagues, making sure there is a plan in place for them to return quickly.

“We are really lucky that our girls league is really flexible in terms of its format. “It is not the same situation with the senior leagues, where you have a fixed format and you need to get games in.

“In the women’s league, the motivation of female players is different. They have got families to look after and responsibilities but the women’s game is really healthy. The number of teams that we have has increased the standard of the game in the county and is growing all
the time.

“We are always trying to move forward. We have an under-18s female league that we haven’t been able to get up and running yet because of the lockdown. We have got lots that we want to put in place and we have got to be positive. Football will come back. We have got the structure and things in place but it has to be when it is right for everybody.

“Football is for all. It is important that everybody knows that. It doesn’t just have to be within disability football either. We have got players who play in mainstream football who might have disabilities.

Everybody should be involved in the game and shouldn’t think there are barriers to doing so.”

By Tom Howe 20th January 2021

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