The effect of sport on morale and what government guidelines mean for the return of community sports

 

Last month it was announced that unlimited outdoor exercise was now permitted. It was also announced that outdoor sports facilities such as golf courses and tennis courts could re-open and on 1st June horse racing and snooker resumed behind closed doors, and on the 17th of June the football Premier league is set to restart, having been suspended since March.

 

One benefit of the phased return to sport is the positive effect that it will have on the public’s spirits. Boris Johnson himself has said that he believes the re-introduction of sport would “give a much needed boost to the nation’s morale”

 

Whilst we are pleased that there has been large amounts of information and media discussion surrounding the return of elite sport, there has, disappointingly,  been a lot less information and clarity regarding the return of community and amateur level sport.

Back in April, Dominic Raab said that it would be easier to re-introduce professional sport “because of the scale of testing” that could be implemented whilst it would be difficult for amateur level sport to be re-introduced this summer due to the ” the level and scale of interaction” that it requires.

 

However, Dr Brian McCloskey, who was public health director for London 2012, argued that it would be “much easier” to re-introduce grass roots level sport as even if professional matches are played behind closed doors “you still have to work out how they get all of the officials in there, how you get the players in there, the trainers, the TV cameras.”

 

Although it is great that elite sport is up and running again, we could really do with more clarity around when community sports can return. More than 40% of male adults and roughly 31% of female adults participate in sports on a weekly basis. That is nearly 30m, yes 30 million (!) people who are can get not play their sport and think what that is doing to our overall activity rates. Team sports, walking football, dance classes, yoga, all sidelined for 10 weeks and for the foreseeable future. It’s not just physical fitness that will suffer, the mental health benefits of exercise are well known, and this is more important now than ever as low mood and poor mental well-being have been exasperated by this long and often isolating lockdown period.

 

Here at ‘Your Back Yard’ we are really keen that the momentum we have built up over the last year or so, providing activities for a range of groups across Leeds, is not lost during this prolonged lockdown.

 

For example, we were 20 odd weeks into the walking football season coaching the wonderful Bramley Walking Wanderers, and just about to start fixtures with other teams, when lock down hit. We can’t afford to have the team lose their sharpness, and appetite for the beautiful game!

 

Hence, in partnership with our ever expanding pool of dedicated instructors and coaches, applied for funding to develop online exercise and activity videos, including a fitness session for the walking football team, exercise work outs for the over 50’s, tai chi, yoga and chair-based exercise sessions. And by livestreaming some classes, and having a zoom coffee ‘session’ afterwards, we can address isolation and loneliness, allowing people to remain active and social, and retain a sense of normality in these strange and worrying times.

 

We have already had numerous wonderful organisations express interest in this project such as Richmond Hill Elderly Action, The Hamara Centre and MAE Care. If you would also like to get involved in our online activity project please get in contact with us!

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