Return to football guidance

This guidance is dependent on a number of health and safety factors being satisfied:

  • The club has identified a Covid-19 officer (Dan Naylor dnay@hotmail.com  07595 037773) who, together with the club committee, will be responsible for developing a Covid-19 plan prior to the restart of any activity. The Covid-19 officer should continually monitor how compliance is being observed within the club. 
  • The Covid-19 officer and the committee have also established a Covid-19 group to be responsible for producing and implementing the Covid-19 risk assessment and to oversee the safe return to play including monitoring of compliance at training and matches.
  • The Covid-19 officer or his delegates will be responsible for clearly communicating all relevant guidance to the clubs coaches and volunteers and via them to the club players.
  • A risk assessment has been completed by the club and passed to each team manager to be held either on paper or electronically for use at all training sessions and matches together with a copy of this guidance. This information will also be available on the club website: https://stantonilkestonfc.co.uk/ 
  • Coaches/Players/Parents/Carers have read and understand the latest rules and expectations published by the club Covid-19 group, describing what is expected of them.
  • Parents must have given consent via email before their child can attend any training session or fixture.
  • Open age player must also give written acknowledgement of the consent 

Rules for competitive training

1. The overall group size (inclusive of coaches) is limited to 30 players. 

2. Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend.

3. The groups will consist of the same people in each session to support track and trace in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.

4. In all settings before and after the session, and in any breaks, all participants should practise social distancing, in line with Government guidelines on two metres or ‘one metre plus’.

5. In outdoor competitive training physical contact is allowed, but for all other activity (e.g. warmups/cool-downs) the Government guidance on social distancing should be observed. 

6. In competitive football training activities the Team Manager/Coach must ensure a safety briefing is provided before commencement. This briefing will remind all players and officials about their responsibilities in complying with the Code of Behaviour (Appendix 1.) 

As it is not possible for the Covid-19 officer to attend every competitive activity the Team Manager/Coach will be responsible for giving the safety briefing.

7. Any spectators at training sessions (including parents and carers) must be restricted to discrete six-person gathering limits and spread out, in line with wider government guidance, ensuring space for officials, coaches and substitutes.

8. The lead coach must be a minimum Level 1 FA coach along with a standard FA DBS check. There must be a minimum of two FA DBS check adults present at every session.

9. The lead coach will be expected to check that hand sanitising has been carried out by both players and coaches before and after training sessions (see expectations of coaches, players and parents/guardians below.)

10. The sharing of equipment must be avoided where possible. Where equipment is shared, including portable goals, equipment must be cleaned before use by another person. 

11. Bibs must not be shared. Used bibs must be washed before the next session. 

12. When the ball goes out of play it should not be retrieved by non-participants and should be retrieved using the feet rather than the hands where possible. Where there are breaks in the game, or training, if throw-ins or handling has occurred the ball should be disinfected. 

13. Players should avoid shouting or raising their voices when facing each other during, before and after training sessions. Coaches should model this and not shout information or instructions.

14. Everyone should refrain from spitting. If you need to sneeze or cough, you are encouraged to do so into a tissue or upper sleeve and advised to avoid touching your face. Ensure any tissues are disposed of in a sealed bin as soon as possible.

15. Injuries during play should still be treated as participant health and safety is of utmost importance. If a participant gets injured, a member of their household can assist if present and appropriate, but others (including match officials and teammates and coaches) will still need to socially distance unless a life- or limb-threatening injury necessitates compromising guidelines to provide emergency care. 

16. If there is a first-aider or other medical personnel present, they should be equipped with the appropriate PPE (including face coverings) to protect themselves and others if they need to compromise social-distancing guidelines to provide medical assistance. After contact with an injured participant, the person who has administered first aid should clean their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser at the earliest opportunity. 

17. There will be no facilities open in the clubhouse, including toilets until further notice.

Rules for competitive matches

1. Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend.

2. A player register will be kept to support track and trace in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case.

3. In competitive football matches the Covid-19 officer of each club must ensure a safety briefing is provided before the commencement of any fixture. This briefing will remind both sets of players and officials about their responsibilities in complying with the Code of Behaviour (Appendix 1.) 

As it is not possible for the Covid-19 officer to attend every competitive fixture the Team Managers/Coaches will be responsible for giving the safety briefing.

4. In all settings before and after the fixture, and in any breaks, all participants should practise social distancing, in line with Government guidelines on two metres or ‘one metre plus’.

5. Pre-match handshake should not happen. Instead players will be asked to hand-sanitise before kick-off. Post-match hand shaking should also not happen.

6. Team talk huddles should not take place. Team talks can take place, as long as social distancing is observed and held outdoors.

7. Warm-ups/cool-downs should always observe social distancing; 

8. Coaches, other team staff and substitutes are allowed, but must also always observe social distancing on touchlines. Social-distancing must also be observed during interactions when a substitution is being made.

9. Set plays – free kicks: referees and coaches should encourage players to get on with the game and not unnecessarily prolong set play set-up, such as defensive walls.

10. Set plays – corners should also be taken promptly to limit prolonged close marking. 

11. Goal posts should be wiped down before matches, after matches and at half time. 

12. Goal celebrations should be avoided.

13. Interactions with referees and match assistants should only happen with players observing social distancing;

14. Small-sided football should be modified to provide more regular hygiene breaks in activity. 

15. Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play (where young participants may be more likely to cluster around the ball) and provide regular hygiene breaks in activity.

16. Water bottles or other refreshment containers should in no circumstances be shared. 

17. The sharing of equipment must be avoided where possible. Where equipment is shared, including portable goals, corner flags and Respect barriers, equipment must be cleaned before use by another person. 

18. When the ball goes out of play it should not be retrieved by non-participants and should be retrieved using the feet rather than the hands where possible. Where there are breaks in the game, or training, if throw-ins or handling has occurred the ball should be disinfected.

19. There is an additional risk of infection in close proximity situations where people are shouting or conversing loudly. If possible, players should therefore avoid shouting or raising their voices when facing each other during, before and after games. Coaches should model this and not shout information or instructions.

20. Everyone should refrain from spitting and chewing gum. If you need to sneeze or cough, you are encouraged to do so into a tissue or upper sleeve and advised to avoid touching your face. Ensure any tissues are disposed of in a sealed bin as soon as possible.

21. Injuries during play should still be treated as participant health and safety is of utmost importance. If a participant gets injured, a member of their household can assist if present and appropriate, but others (including match officials and teammates and coaches) will still need to socially distance unless a life- or limb-threatening injury necessitates compromising guidelines to provide emergency care. 

22. If there is a first-aider or other medical personnel present, they should be equipped with the appropriate PPE (including face coverings) to protect themselves and others if they need to compromise social-distancing guidelines to provide medical assistance. After contact with an injured participant, the person who has administered first aid should clean their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser at the earliest opportunity. 

23. Participants should take their kit home to wash it themselves, rather than have one person handling a large quantity of soiled materials. Where kit absolutely has to be shared or kept together (e.g. last-minute stand-in players, shortage of kit, or an essential club function), each person handling it must wash or sanitise their hands immediately after and appropriate cleaning arrangements for the kit must be made.

24. There will be no facilities open in the clubhouse, including toilets until further notice.

What are the expectations of Managers/Coaches

  • Before a training session or fixture.
  • The coach will text the parents of the players and ask them to complete a ‘Covid-19 self assessment’. No-one should leave home to participate in football if they, or someone they live with, has any of the following: 
    • A high temperature (above 37.8°C); 
    • A new, continuous cough; 
    • A loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste.
    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling generally unwell.
    • Been in close contact with/living with a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.
  • This check should be done before each training session or fixture and must be recorded in regular risk assessments and it is important to note that no training session/fixture should take place without this having been done. 
  • Ensure that the club covid risk assessment is available and updated as required as circumstances change. 
  • If symptoms are checked at the start of a session rather than in advance, this should be completed on arrival before the player mixes with others, so that if they have symptoms there is no chance of others being affected. 
  • If a participant says they forgot to self-check before their arrival, then the coach should ask them the health check questions before they join any group at the facility. If they answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions, participants must not take part in the activity and should be told to safely return home.
  • The coach must have emergency contact details of all the players by electronic means. All coaches, assistants and volunteers present must have each other’s emergency contact details by electronic means.
  • Coaches/Volunteers must wash their hands or sanitise them at home before attending a session and after using gates or padlocks at the training facilities. 
  • Coaches/Volunteers must arrive changed and wear clean training kits, no work clothes or everyday clothes allowed. 
  • Coaches must have hand sanitising liquid, several pairs of disposable surgical gloves (single use), disposable apron (single use), Fluid-resistant Surgical Face mask Type IIR(sessional use), eye protection goggles (re-useable).
  • Coaches must update themselves on any changes in first aid procedure that will be required as a result of the pandemic by reading; FA First Aid Guidance to Outdoor Competitive Grassroots Football
  • Coaches must clean/sanitise equipment such as footballs and cones before a session starts.
  • Coaches/Volunteers must check for and remove rubbish/faeces from the training area. (Gloves must be worn to do this then disposed of safely.)
  • Coaches must set out all equipment before players arrive and hand sanitise when equipment has been set out. 
  • The perimeter of the training area to be marked using cones or Respect barriers.
  • Coaches must place markers 2m apart to identify individual areas for players to place their personal equipment.
  • Coaches will supervise the players moving to the training area maintain 2m distancing and to their individual area, ensuring they sanitise their hands.
  • After a training  session or fixture.
  • The coach must ensure each player goes to their individual area and sanitise their hands before leaving the training/match area.
  • The coach must ensure the players maintain social distancing when leaving.
  • The coach must collect all cones and equipment.
  • All litter/bottles must be removed from the training area.
  • All balls should be cleaned/sanitised after each session and fixture.
  • When returning home the coaches kit (clothing) must be removed immediately and washed before being used for the next session.
  • Coaches are encouraged to maintain a record of the regular cleaning of club or team equipment that players use, and review the risk assessments, learning from any changes you need to apply. 

What are the expectations of the players?

  • Players must complete the ‘Self Assessment’ before coming to the session/fixture.
  • Players must wash their hands at home before attending a session.
  • Players must arrive changed and wear clean sports kit, no everyday clothes allowed. 
  • Players must bring their own small bottle of hand sanitise to use when they arrive, reusable water bottle labelled with their name and any personal medication (eg inhaler). 
  • Players may bring sun cream (in hot weather), mobile phone, rucksack for boots, raincoat. Nothing else.
  • Personal items must be placed in their individual area. Items must not be shared with anyone else.
  • No drinks to be shared or sprayed.
  • No spitting. No chewing gum.
  • No equipment such as cones should be picked up or moved. 
  • Any rubbish must be taken home.
  • If you feel unwell at any time, you must advise your coach immediately.

What are the expectations of parents/guardians?

  • Parents must read and understand the new rules, expectations, and the risk assessment.
  • Only support your child return to football activity when they feel confident to do so and you feel the activity is safe and right for them. 
  • Parents must give consent before their child can attend any training session. This can be done electronically to minimise the use of paper.
  • Before the session or fixture a parent must respond to the request of the coach and perform a ‘Covid-19 self assessment’. No-one should leave home to participate in football if they, or someone they live with, has any of the following: 
    • A high temperature (above 37.8°C); 
    • A new, continuous cough; 
    • A loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste.
    • Shortness of breath
    • Feeling generally unwell.
    • Been in close contact with/living with a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.
  • All participants and other attendees should follow best practice for travel, including minimising use of public transport. Participants should walk or cycle if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle. 
  • Your child must arrive changed and ready to take part in the event. 
  • Parents must ensure their child has their own water bottle, hand sanitiser, sun cream and any necessary medication (e.g. inhaler). All items should be labelled with their name and should not be used by anyone else.
  • Please ensure your child/children know how to maintain good hygiene and hand washing. 
  • Please continue to do your best to help your child recognise what two metres or ‘one-metre plus’ look and feel like.
  • Parents must ensure their child/ children understand and adhere to the expectations of the players.
  • Social distancing must be observed at all times.
  • Parents must ensure their child has sanitised their hands on entry and exit of the training / pitch area.
  • Ensure that no litter or bottles have been left and everything is taken home.
  • Arrive no more than five minutes before the designated time and vacate as soon as possible afterwards. 
  • If late to the session a player may take part only if the coach deems the safety of other players and coach is not at risk.

CODE OF BEHAVIOUR 

Covid-19 is a highly infectious and dangerous disease. A resumption of contact play is only achievable if those involved create and maintain a controlled environment that minimises the threat of infection. 

Risk in sport cannot be completely eradicated but with caution and care these risks can be reduced. Each player will need to decide when to return to contact football, based on their own circumstances and the arrangements that have been put in place for a safe return. This is particularly the case for players from BAME communities or those with underlying health conditions. 

All those returning to competitive grassroots football must adopt the following code of behaviour: 

• Be aware of your own personal health. If you show any of the Covid-19 symptoms you must stay at home, inform NHS Test and Trace and seek medical advice. 

• Be responsible. Read the guidance provided by The FA and by your club so that you are aware of the changes to the game and what is expected of you. This will include things like being prepared to wash your own kit, bringing your own labelled water bottle and being aware of changes to meet-up times. 

• Practise good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and before, during and after a game.

 • Where possible maintain social distancing. This won’t always be possible in a competitive match environment (for example when tackling an opponent) and that is acceptable. However, before, and after a game you should maintain social distancing. 

• Support NHS Test and Trace. You’re likely to be asked to provide your details so that in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak those potentially infected can be traced. This is to everyone’s benefit so please cooperate. 

• Do not spit. Spitting and the rinsing out of mouths is now a recognised risk to health and must not be done. 

• Avoid shouting or raising your voice if face to face with other players. 

DISCLAIMER: This guidance is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice, nor it is a replacement for such, nor does it replace any Government or PHE advice; nor does it provide any specific commentary or advice on health-related issues. While efforts have been taken to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication, the reader is reminded to check the Government website to obtain the most up-to date information regarding social distancing and any other Government measures.