With the FAI allowing a return to training from Monday, Cork soccer club Innishvilla has created an instructional video to show how it will follow Covid-19 safety guidelines.
And it will trial the protocols with a training session next Tuesday night.
The video walks parents and players through how the club will follow procedures laid out by the FAI.
Each player will be asked to bring their own water bottles and to avoid car pooling.
Coaches will have sanitised goalposts and footballs and set up a session plan with the two-metre guidelines in mind.
A one-way system is in place in the club carpark for players' arrival. Each child’s temperature will be taken using a no-contact thermometer, with any child registering over 38 degrees unable to attend.
Each child’s and coach’s attendance is recorded for contact tracing, with a maximum of 15 — including players and coaches — allowed attend each session.
Each player will sanitise their hands and proceed to the training facility, following the two-metre social distancing guideline as marked out on footpaths.
After a session has ended, parents are advised to queue in their cars until their child is called.
After each session, coaches will sanitise goalposts and footballs as per FAI guidelines. And upon arriving home, players are advised to immediately wash their training gear and sanitise their boots
“We are delighted that the FAI have provided a pathway for much needed return to football and we at Innishvilla will strive to maintain the safety of all our members,” said the club’s director of football, Shane Fitzgerald.
The club will trial the protocols with their U14 boys team on Tuesday, and are determined to do whatever is possible to get youngsters playing football again.
“The kids have nothing at the moment, there’s no GAA, no rugby. It’s for their mental health. They need to be out,” says Fitzgerald.
“We know we mightn’t be back playing matches in September, maybe not in October. But we just wanted to get them back training, to trial it.
“We did all the risk assessment and we think we can get them back safely in a controlled environment.
“The taking of temperatures isn’t mandatory. But we said we’d get the no-contact thermometers. They were €40. Just for peace of mind.
“Hopefully things will change again in the next phase. Maybe we’re looking at the new normal. We hope not, but if we are we’ll do what we can. All the soccer clubs have been talking together, bouncing ideas off each other.
“The video is rough enough, but we just wanted to let parents and kids know what to expect.”
The ambitious, growing club, based outside the village of Innishannon, has just been accepted into the Munster Senior League, having previously played in the Cork AUL.
It recently completed the building of an astroturf training facility, to add to two main pitches at Jake O'Donoghue Park.
“The move to the MSL is another major step in our club’s history as we will now be able to offer our players the opportunity to play intermediate football,” says Fitzgerald. “It’s something the club has been working towards for a number of years. The club and the players are looking forward to this big move.”
For now, the focus is on getting back in training. And when the U14s pilot the return on Tuesday, they will have a Cork legend in charge.
Their coach Niall Linehan is the original guitar player with the Frank and Walters, his brother Paul being the lead singer.
Linehan has also stepped up to the plate as Innishvilla’s Covid officer.
“He runs his own construction firm,” says Fitzgerald. “So he’s well accustomed to supervising big projects and health and safety. He'll do all he can to make sure everything goes smoothly on Tuesday.”
After all we really need you, football.