Salford Storm, a local grassroots football have managed to play their first game back since the lockdown began, after recent restrictions were lifted.
Stuart Craig, a committee member at the club, spoke about the return of football and how the lockdown took its toll on the club.
“We played our first game back on Saturday, it was absolutely brilliant.
“The kids were a bit worried. We’d not had a training session, we’d not really planned anything. But we just said have a bit of fun, which is what it’s about anyway.”
Luckily, the team managed to win their first game back after going two goals down in the first five minutes. “They were over the moon”, says Stuart.
Across the country many teams have had to deal with not having a way to play football for the past month and, for a lot of people, this has been very hard for them to cope with.
“It’s not just playing football, they build up friendships. It’s not just the football, it’s the social side of it.
“It’s also good for the parents to get out, it gives everyone something to look forward to.”
During the lockdown, Salford Storm had found new ways to keep their team involved. These involved having online challenges for the kids to do with prizes at the end of it.
“In the first lockdown we did online challenges and gave them to the children. At the end of the 6-8 weeks we did prizes. So we did keep in touch like that.”
The club also provided children who did not have the equipment with the stuff they would need to keep active. “We also delivered some cones and footballs to their house if they did not have it.” Stuart explained.
But when they were able to go back to training there was still issues.
“When we first went back, we were training non contact with the 2m rules. But it was the smiles on their faces to be back.”
Over the past year that Stuart has been involved in the club, the club has grown exponentially.
“When I started we only had 8 teams. We’re at 16-17 teams now. We’re creating a ladies team and an u-10s girls team. So we’re growing.
“It’s getting the Salford Storm name into the community. It’s great for the community, all the residents coming out and saying it’s never looked so good.”
In Salford and Manchester, they have been allowed to come back but in some other parts of Lancashire they are still not allowed to play. This would have come as a welcome surprise for Salford Storm as people were not expecting to be allowed in Manchester.
Stuart explained that during the second lockdown, they had struggled to get their son out.
“It’s definitely affected them as a group of children and they bonded with each other. It was more mentally not being able to see each other.
“We struggled in the end to get him in the garden. So it was good to be able to get them back.”