After March 17th, when we had our last regular sessions before lockdown, we kept on receiving good news around the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand, which lead to having football back on the agenda. When level 2 kicked in, we were ready to train with limitations. After weeks of lockdown, we hosted an online meeting with parents and players to explain our precautions and constraints compared to a typical football situation. By adjusting to all the rules and keeping our players’ safety in mind, we started with two weeks of non-contact training. When news came out that the government was going to lift more restrictions, it became clear that Mainland Football was able to organize the league quickly; Football games started last Friday, June 5th!
A week before the start of the league, all our teams have been training in full contact again, of course, that has to be built up again. The two weeks of non-contact training and the slow progression of contact training has lead to many players back on the fields during the first games. In the next couple of weeks, we still have to be wise to make sure we don’t overload our players while everything is starting back up.
As an academy, we are slowly but steadily adding our programs piece by piece. The morning trainings and goalkeeper practice have been added after all regular afternoon trainings have been starting to train full contact. In term 3, we will start our extra u9-12 training on Mondays again. The video analysis which we used to host at the meeting room (and online) will resume once we are in level 1 restrictions.
Besides the technical questions about players load and getting back in a rhythm, we also have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure all the administrative work is being organized. Information has been sent out through our different channels by our coordinators. Our email, text, WhatsApp, and social media channels have been used repeatedly to keep everyone up to date. Most people have been responding quickly, and if someone still has the feeling that information is missing about anything that has to do with our programs, our coordinators Jude (U11-17) and Lew (U6-10) will be happy to help.
Danil has done a great job preparing all the uniforms for all our teams. We have chosen to appoint shirt numbers slightly different this year compared to other seasons where every team had numbers 1 to 16. We alternate high and low numbers through the age categories to open up options for player development. This year the U17 will play with number 1 to number 16, the U15 with number 17 to number 34, and the U14 will start with number 1 again. We will do this all the way through to the U9, so players whose development would benefit from games in another age category (playing up or down a grade) can use their uniform without having the same shirt number as one of his teammates in the other grade.
It was great to see the benefits of this already in the games that were played last weekend. The leagues have taken off, and the football rhythm will hopefully be back to normal soon!