Our pre-season planning was put in further disarray when the RFL announced that they were suspending all activity below Super League until Friday. This is to give some breathing space for the RFL to consider the ever-worsening COVID situation in the community and to perhaps put some additional protocols in place.
A clubs meeting has been arranged for Wednesday 13th January when the current situation will be discussed, hopefully with a view to returning to training. It seems highly likely that there will be an additional requirement to test our players on a once or twice weekly basis. I was asked how many testing kits I would like to procure at the weekend to be delivered next week, so clearly plans are afoot to introduce testing.
There were other changes in protocols communicated to the Super League clubs such as minimising contact at training, reducing the amount of personnel present at training sessions and indoor interactions all with the aim of reducing risk.
At the moment Elite Sport is allowed to continue but the lower professional football divisions in Scotland have been suspended and there is real concern that our pre-season will again be interrupted. I will be making my voice heard that we must put the protocols in place to ensure the safe resumption of training and that cancellation is an absolute last resort. Training outdoors with players at the peak of their physical fitness, testing negative and completing daily wellness checks should mitigate enough risk to continue.
I am hoping that we decide to continue and quickly release the fixtures so that we can at last start planning for the season ahead. We hope that by the summer COVID is starting to become a distant memory and we can put an events programme together to make full use of our facilities. It is so important that we mitigate the risk of perhaps playing behind closed doors at the start of the season with activities throughout the rest of the year that will bring in revenue.
Lockdown, of course, has hampered not just the playing side of the club but we have had to close our bar and club shop and there has been immense pressure on some of our sponsors that have had things tough. We understand that we often receive sponsorship from surplus cash that simply isn’t there under the current climate.
Our community programme has also been badly affected as we have had to cancel a lot of our school bookings and many of our initiatives like Raid Runners and Walking Raiders have yet to be fully got off the ground.
The community team have not been completely idle as they have still been into a school or two to help provide services for the children of key workers and we have still been facilitating zoom fitness sessions with residents of care homes.
The Community Trust are in the process of applying for charitable status and as such they are a separate organisation from the club. Being awarded that status will allow so many more grant application opportunities and it is hoped that we are leading the way when the resumption of activities in the community restart and we get the whole community focussing on wellbeing, health and fitness, not to mention an interest in rugby league.