The Football Association of Ireland notes confirmation from Government that underage football, Grassroots and League of Ireland, can return to non-contact training from April 26th, the first step on a phased return for football at all levels of the game.
Reacting to the announcement by An Taoiseach Micheal Martin, FAI CEO Jonathan Hill has acknowledged the work of Government and its agencies to facilitate the return to training on April 26th, in pods of 15 for all underage players.
The CEO has also assured all amateur adult teams that this return for underage players is the first step towards a return to football for all grassroots players as Ireland eases out of lockdown.
“We obviously see this announcement from Government as a positive for all our underage players who have waited so patiently for the chance to play football again although, of course, we would have loved this to have been from April 5th but we note the realities of the current situation,” said Jonathan Hill.
“Non-contact training in pods of 15 represents the start of a return for our game that will see all our players at all ages permitted to train and then to play in what we hope will be the near future. This battle with COVID-19 has been so demanding for Irish society and our footballers have had to endure so much in Level 5 lockdown.
“We thank them for their perseverance and their patience. The adherence to the Government guidelines of our grassroots clubs, their volunteers, coaches, match officials and players, has been exemplary and to be applauded. Our adult amateur game will unfortunately need to continue to be patient as we await a return to training for them and of course playing matches, but our game has proven itself to be safe in a COVID-19 environment and I urge all clubs to maintain this as we return in the first instance to training for our younger players on April 26th.”
The FAI will now take the following steps in light of the Government update:
- We will update the FAI’s Safer Return to Training protocols for our underage teams and players.
- We will host a COVID-19 webinar for all Grassroots Leagues and affiliates on April 12th.
- We will follow this with regional workshops for Club COVID-19 Compliance Officers during which we will present and discuss our latest protocols in detail.
- We will review where we stand with all affiliates in relation to all Leagues and Competitions and agree next steps as soon as is possible.
- We will consult with the SFAI on the hosting of the Kennedy Cup and the Gaynor Cup tournaments later this year.
- We will consult with all Men’s and Women’s Underage National League clubs on their return to training schedule and next steps.