Nowhere in the round leather game of football has the confusion and mayhem caused by the pandemic been more felt than at the grassroots football development level. Many Academies have had to battle every new set of guidance released to get in line, with fewer resources to deal with it than football clubs, and Australian online casinos are keeping close eye on their progress.
During the tick of the pandemic last year, a coach of Murieston under-17 girls, and the Soccer Sevens program in West Lothian, Alan Whyte said, “Parents would come to watch, hiding in the trees and like,” “And we’ve had to say to them: ‘You can’t do that, because if you do, we’ll get shut down.'”
The same mental and physical impacts are greatly felt, whether it’s children’s frustrations boiling, or rustiness on the pitch. And the fear that some young talented kids never returned after such a long spell out during the nationwide lockdown.
Another major difficulty faced is travel restrictions. This is still having a profound effect on not just the boys’ game but the girls’ game also, given there are fewer clubs, which means local fixtures can be hard to organize. Divisions below the Scottish Women’s Premier League 1 and 2 were scrapped in the year 2020.
Then there are the worries of parents who do not want their kid traveling long distances, which greatly impacts the ability to expose the kids to more competition and prevented them from stepping up to the pro-youth level.
Whyte also revealed: “Kids are now starting to stay a little bit longer at grassroots and then go to pro-youth,”
“That impacts on the pro-youth teams, but it also makes it difficult to match up teams, or it would be cricket scores. This is the widest gap I’ve seen between some teams.”
At the elite level of football in Scotland, there are talks ongoing about the future of academy football in the country to prevent the death of football in the Nation.
Tough decisions have had to be made. Teams argue keeping the first-team action is a priority expense, as it unlocks sponsorship, matchday income, and prize.
So when club budgets are reduced, how do you maintain high productivity in the club academy? Producing your own players makes sense financially, as well as being a massive part of the clubs’ identity and place in its club community.
Scottish clubs including Hibs made many academies coaches redundant as part of plan s to reduce cost. Mathie says budget reductions are an inevitable consequence but offer an opportunity to think outside the box, for instance, it encourages collaboration between teams at the academy level, with real money casino showing their support too.
“This is not an opportunity to consider changing things – you have to, there’s no option,” he says. “We’ve had a good opportunity to reflect on that.
“Would we want our academy to look and do exactly what it did before lockdown? In some ways, yes. But in other areas, we’re actually really challenging ourselves to consider doing something a little bit differently.”
While Scottish football clubs have had to adapt new strategies, so have young boys and girls. Mental resilience is quite important in a footballer’s career, and this period will surely have helped to build it in the youngsters.
Post Covid-19, the future looks bleak, but with the support of the Government and the community at large, football will win the battle over the invisible enemy.
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