During the COVID-19 outbreak, a team of Nottingham Forest Community Trust staff were tasked with finding a way of delivering safe and effective Premier League Kicks sessions for children between the ages of 8 and 16. Due to the ongoing restrictions around large groups participating in team sports such as football, they had to think of something slightly out the box to deliver.
As an organisation the idea of socially distanced activities such as foot golf, foot tennis and fitness sessions became an option. The Trust worked with local authorities and organisations such as, Nottinghamshire Police, Tesco, The County Council and various Youth Centre’s to ensure that children can participate in sports safely. With the help of these organisations we were able to set up sessions in areas that would benefit the most from our presence. We set up weekly sessions in Bulwell, Valley Road, Basford, Calverton, Netherfield and Arnold. We also targeted a different area in Nottinghamshire each Friday, in locations highlighted by the police for needing activities to keep kids engaged following the lockdown period. This has allowed us to develop and build new relationships by also branching out to locations outside of the city.
Regardless of what was to be delivered, ensuring equipment was used safely and cleaned after every use was of high importance. Every member of staff was supplied with the correct PPE equipment such as sprays, wipes, face masks, gloves and hand gel to keep both staff and participants safety.
Danielle Sullivan became a regular attendee of our programme at the Bulwell Tesco venue, this is where she first became aware of our work. Along with her dad, John, she began to attend the majority of our sessions throughout the week at other venues such as Valley Road and Stockhill Park. We caught up with Danielle to ask her some questions about her experience attending our Premier League Kicks sessions.
One of our Head Coaches Arron caught up with Danielle at Premier League Kicks.
How did you find out about our session?
“We were walking through Tesco’s car park after doing some shopping and noticed all the flags and asked what was going on. We nipped home and signed the forms.” From then on Danielle attended most of our sessions throughout the week.
Her dad John explained that Danielle is really into her football and plays for a local boy’s team on a Sunday morning.
Have our sessions helped you to be active?
“I do lots of sports, but I am always willing to try more. Since lockdown I have not been able to do these sports, the football tennis, gold and fitness were the first activities I got to do since lockdown began. The first of my swimming sessions with my club Radford has only just started again, so these football activities and playing for my football team is the only thing I have been doing.”
At first, the idea of foot golf, foot tennis, and fitness sessions seemed like a whole new situation for our members of staff. Coaches had been used to the delivery of football sessions at venues where everything was already there and ready to use and players just turned up to take part. Due to the new government guidelines the way sessions were run had to be altered. The biggest changes were participant numbers being restricted, and most importantly ensuring all equipment was cleaned after every use, with the addition of staff members wearing rubber gloves throughout.
How did you feel about the safety of the sessions?
“The staff have been friendly, and they are definitely making these training sessions safe and protected for me and other kids.”
John added “I really feel that everything is COVID safe. There is always plenty of hand sanitiser given to participants before and after. I have noticed that the equipment is always thoroughly cleaned during and at the end of all activities. Safety instructions are clearly given to ensure all children are aware of the rules implemented and stuck to.”
Which activity do you enjoy the most?
“I have enjoyed all of the activities. They have benefited me a lot at these very strange times. My favourite activities are the football tennis and football golf and I hope that I can continue to come.”
John said “These have been very strange times where a bit of normality was much needed, and thanks to these sessions this has gone a long way to achieving this. It has benefited Danielle in both fitness and well-being, and we are very grateful to Nottingham Forest and all the staff operating this great activity. We hope it continues.”
To find out more about the work we are doing in the community with our Premier League Kicks sessions, please click here.