Sports clubs around Salford have reacted to the return of grassroots sports and recreation, which is allowed after the national lockdown from Wednesday 2.
Salford Now spoke to various sports clubs around the city to get their thoughts on the return of grassroots sports and how they have managed over lockdown.
Eccles Rugby Football Club welcome the return of training but are worried about players only being able to train in small groups for contact training, as well as only being able to do touch rugby in larger groups.
Sam Simpson, Director of Rugby at Eccles RFC said: “They say we are returning to 15-a-side contact training, but we’re only allowed to do a two versus two contact training session for 15 minutes within an hour session.
“Is that going to prepare a team for a contact team the week after? No it isn’t.
“In my coaching experience, I don’t believe that it is going to be an appropriate tackling environment to get you ready for a 15-a-side game with contact.
“They definitely haven’t given us an environment and frame work right now to prepare fully for a 15-a-side game.”
Mr Simpson praised the newly formed ‘Ready For Rugby’ game which has been created by England Rugby to maintain competitive match situations, while reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.
He said: “It’s been a fantastic game, if you think about the way the game is going to look when we go back and they’ve taken the scrums and mauls out. It is going to be a much faster paced game.”
Despite the overall lack of on-the-field preparation, Eccles RFC have kept their players and members involved in the club by doing online competitions: “Each team sends videos of keeping their players and parents active, they get points every week.
“Right now, it looks like the under eights are going to win!”
“We’re all ready and excited to get back.” – Salford Storm Football Club
Mike Knox, Chairman at Salford Storm Football Club stated that the players at the club are “buzzing” to be back.
He said: “This time round, I think the lockdown was a bit of a bigger hit for everyone.
“Everyone was really gutted about it [grassroots sport being put on hold]. We’re all ready and excited to get back.
“We have some teams returning tomorrow, but a lot of our teams train on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Salford Storm have age groups ranging from adults football, all the way down to under sevens.
He added: “The kids are really eager to get back playing.”
“Despite the announcement, nothing really changes for us” – Walkden Cricket Club
Nathan Rushton, Head Cricket Coach at Walkden Cricket Club, is happy to see the return of grassroots sport but is worried about the financial problems that come with being in tier three or even tier two restrictions.
He said: “We’re linked with North Walkden Football Club, the plan this year was that we would have some kind of sport on offer all year round, whether that be cricket or football.
“The footballers have been playing, but obviously didn’t have access to the bar and changing rooms. Financially, that has put us under a bit of pressure.
“In a football team, you have 19 lads who all want to turn up and have a drink together after the game and have something to eat.
“It’s brilliant that football can come back, but because we are still in tier three or even if we went down to tier two, we still wouldn’t be able to open our bar because we don’t serve food.”
Walkden Cricket Club’s bar is a large portion of their revenue, which helps pay for machinery and general upkeep of the ground.
He continued: “It’s a massive impact from a financial point of view with our bar takings.
“That’s really what pays for the machines, the fuel and the upkeep of the ground.
“Despite the announcement, nothing really changes for us apart from people being on the site.
“It’s a risk [to invest in serving food], because you need to employ a chef, invest in the kitchen, all your food hygiene certificates.
“It opens up a massive can of worms doesn’t it.”
Walkden Cricket Club are looking to book winter nets in February to prepare for their season starting in April. However, they are worried that with the current climate that, it will be tough to rely solely on the generosity of their members donations without bar takings.
“If we are short of a few hundred pounds, where is that money coming from?”
“We’re not in a bad position” – Barton Athletic Club
Barton Athletic Club are a gym that offer boxing, wrestling, circuit training, weightlifting and road running classes.
John Lightford, committee member at Barton Athletic Club, spoke about how the new restrictions affect them.
He said: “We have spread the gym out so we can get all the machinery two metres apart. Weight lifting is okay because they’re on platforms so distanced from people.
“We have had to take exercise classes and group classes out. Wrestling will be out until March next year, you can’t wrestle from two metres apart!
“Yeah we’re not in a bad position, some of the circuit classes we can’t do those.
“We have managed the lockdown okay, we have had a lot of government support from grants through the local authority.”
Barton Athletic Club own their gym and do not employ anyone. This has helped during a time that many sports clubs face financial insecurity.
He continued: “It has been frustrating with the boxing side of things, the youngsters come in and they can’t do any pad work or any sparring.”
You can view the location of these four grassroots clubs above.
While it has been tough overall for Salford’s grassroots sports clubs, whether that be having to train differently or not being able to reopen bar facilities, one thing they can all agree on is excitement for the return of local, community driven sport.