Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s disability football sessions resumed this Tuesday after an 8-week break.
The sessions that use to run twice a week as part of Sheffield Wednesday’s Community Programme, were temporarily stopped due to lockdown rules.
Sean Graves, inclusion officer in the Community department, is happy the sessions can restart due to the impact lockdowns are having on the players mental health.
“I have had a couple of players struggling through lockdown.
“The break due to covid [has] had a hit on players fitness wise and mentally. The football sessions are hobbies and seeing friends there was a social aspect as well as keeping fit. Players come to these sessions and join other teams making new friends.”
Due to an increase in covid cases, new FA rules temporarily suspended most non-elite football on January 4th.
Organised outdoor football for disabled children or adults was one of only a few exceptions to the new rules, as long as Covid-19 restrictions were adhered to.
“Every player must use the hand sanitiser I provide them with before and after the session, we spray the footballs at the beginning of the session and at the end, bibs are only used once then washed and we have a covid form that gets filled in every 6 weeks,” Graves told ShefNews.
Despite only just returning to in person sessions, Graves and his team made sure to keep the younger players entertained throughout the 8-weeks.
“We tried to keep the younger ones engaged by running FIFA tournaments and online pre-recorded exercises, as well as design a kit competition. Older participants we have been keeping up to date on how things are via email.”
Graves intends to ease the players back into the sessions gradually, but claims the players are raring to go.
“We will start by focussing more on fitness nothing too strenuous the 1st couple of weeks and ball mastery skills as it will have been a while since some have played in this environment.
“’I’ve had constant emails the last few weeks about when we can start back up, so to be finally able to do so is going to be great, to see all the participants with smiles on their faces getting in some exercise and enjoying football again.”
The sessions are free of charge and will at first take place once a week at Concord park, for players aged eight and up with some form of SEN, visible or nonvisible disability.