Captains, how to organise your football team during COVID

Two football captains shaking elbows after the tossing of the coin. They are staying safe during COVID.

Amateur football is almost back, which means if you’re a captain you’re probably want to know how to organise your football teams during COVID. As per the government’s announcement and policy release on the 10th of July, grassroots sports are set to re-open. The FA, accordingly, has published its COVID guidelines for players, coaches teams and clubs. Given all the plethora of policies and procedures, and as someone that’s been the captain and organizer for my team, I wanted to create a simple summary for all the captains and organisers out there. Hopefully, this will be easier to follow then trawling through all the downloads on the FA’s website. 

It’s important to note that all the policies that have been put in place aim to follow the government’s COVID-19 guidance along with its support bubble initiative. That is to say, most of it is pretty common sense and habitual for us by now. The FA, furthermore, have broken their guidance into before, during and after play to help us navigate all the stages of play. The last important piece, before I get into the details, is to say that our local club, league of facilities have the final say, so it’s up to them to let us know when they are ready to open. However, most likely they will also be adhering to the following policies, which we can share with our teams:

Before the game

  1. Physical contact with anyone outside of your household or support bubble is not allowed
  2. Maintain good hygiene and social distancing before the game
  3. Ideally, travel to the venue via a socially distant method (walking, cycle etc.)
  4. Arrive changed and ready to play at the venue
  5. Bibs must not be used unless they are washed between every game
  6. Local facilities at clubs and leagues (showers etc.) will have to be closed

During the game

  1. Avoid touching equipment if you can (football posts, cones etc.)
  2. Equipment should be handled by as few people as possible
  3. Refrain from spitting
  4. Take your own water bottle
  5. If someone gets injured, they should attend to themselves. Unless they really aren’t able to, and then someone from their household or support bubble can help (seems a bit draconian this one)
  6. If you start feeling ill (fever, cough etc.) leave the game as soon as possible. Head home and self-isolate
  7. Avoid shouting

After the game

  1. Don’t congregate
  2. Leave as soon as possible
  3. Wash hands

All pretty serious stuff. However, as mentioned, nothing that’s not already part of how we have to interact these days.
The question of how to organise your football team during COVID, has definitely become less intimidating after all our experiences over the last 6 months. As captains of our 5,7 or 8-aside, I really believe there’s a whole lot more we can do to keep from playing throughout the season. Of course, there will always be risks (we all have to interact with the outside world) but keeping our team healthy will be a competitive advantage in our leagues. Of course, no one wants to be the neurotic person enforcing hand sanitizer on everyone every 5 minutes, yet there are some simple things we can all do to ensure.

Follow some of the premier league’s policies

  • No handshakes before, during or after games (only awkward elbow bumps allowed apparently)
  • Use hand sanitizers immediately before, at half time and after the game
  • Maintain distances during goal celebrations 
  • Sanitize the football before and after game 

Hack test and tracing

As captains, think of your 5, 7 or 8-a-side group like a professional team or household.

Each player has the responsibility to be as cautious as possible in the outside world and let anyone and everyone know if they think they’ve been exposed. Of course, we can’t control all variables. We all have to go to work, interact with friends and family and live life. Yet, we can easily establish a small network within our (and one or two rival teams) that we can test, track and trace to keep everyone safe. If anyone’s feeling sick or think they might have been exposed then obviously sending a message out to the network should be a priority. This not only protects the group, but helps test and tracing in your local community.

Keep it local and small 

Missing players and asking friends of friends (or randoms in the park) to jump into our 5-a-side is just one the many joys of being a captain. However, in these times it’s important to keep our inner circle to only a handful of people. Especially if we want to try to maintain some sort of track and tracing. Hence why going doing smaller teams (5-a-side) might be a better option and even an advantage in in how to organise your football team during COVID. It means we are more likely to fill the spots and have fewer interactions than with bigger teams. 

Get your COVID pack ready

Clean bibs, cones and goal posts at a session, sanitizer for the balls and players, temperature scanners and face masks are simple things we as Captains can put together. Even simpler if the team all pitches in a fiver for it. I think any team that can stay COVID free will have a competitive advantage over the next year. So it just makes long-term sense.

Staying on top of developments

No doubt the government, FA and our local leagues will be announcing all sorts of initiatives in the weeks ahead. Which means there’ll be more to read, process and implement on how to organise your football team during COVID.
If you follow
our blog we’ll be posting updates throughout this period on the best way to organise football during these times. If you like this article please show some love on twitter.