Young footballers in Huddersfield are loving their return to action after lockdown. This weekend Laund Hill Under-11s are back. Here JASON BATTYE tells how tough it’s been and how excited the youngsters are to be playing again.
This weekend will be the third attempt, in the past 12 months, at getting structured football underway in Huddersfield.
It will see 35 under 11s at Laund Hill take to the field and compete against more young boys and girls in a scene that will be replicated hundreds of times across the Huddersfield and wider Kirklees area.
For some this will be only the first few bits of meaningful physical activity that they have taken part in since the third lockdown started in January.
This has led to concerns from coaches and parents about the loss of the opportunities for the young players to cement a lifelong love of football and physical activity due to the lack of participation opportunities over the last year.
They have missed the chance to see how football enables them to socialise, have fun, experience progress and mastery through hard work and effort, whilst becoming fitter and happier.
The Laund Hill players have been training twice a week since lockdown restrictions were eased, and have taken to the return to playing with much gusto and enthusiasm.
For some football offers the chance to be free and express themselves, for others they have clearly missed being with their friends, and for others they can’t wait to continue to replicate the skills and techniques of their heroes that they see every day in the media.
My son William aged 10 says that he’s “missed playing with my friends and doing something that I like.”
He’s looking forward to “getting back to normal before Coronavirus stopped us, because playing football is one of children’s best things.”
I’m looking forward to getting back to regular structured participation for the kids because I think football and sport has some much to offer children that they have so little opportunity to experience in today’s modern childhood of screens, increasing obesity levels and instant/constant rewards.
The life skills and life experiences that they have so far missed out on is very sad but we, as coaches and parents, will do our best to give them a sense of what sport can provide, and hopefully we can see 35 young players turn into 35 adults who are still being physically active when they are in their 20s, 30s and upwards.
Sunday will be the next step in establishing this player-sport bond and, hopefully, this will continue unabated for many years to come.