Sport starts the long road to recovery

May 22, 2020

Local sports organisations have been quick to embrace the opportunities presented by the easing of lockdown restrictions announced by the States of Guernsey. Outdoor sports and activities including one to one and small group coaching have been able to restart as long as social distancing and strict hygiene measures are implemented, with more easing of restrictions to come.

‘We’ve been working hard with the authorities to ensure that sports were well prepared and ready to go once restrictions were eased,’ said Steve Sharman, Relationship Manager for the Commission.

‘We have tried to make the whole process of applying to restart activities as easy as possible by making sure all sports know what’s required and acting as a support to the authorities to ensure they understand how sports operate ahead of granting permission to re-start activities. We’ve been really pleased with the way things have worked and it is great to see sport and activity beginning the journey back to normality.’

Cricket is one sport relishing being back.

‘The lockdown came at the time when local cricket was just cranking up the preparations as a new season loomed,’ said Mark Latter, Chief Executive and Director of Guernsey Cricket.

‘Not wanting to waste any time we have been busy keeping in contact with players, parents and stakeholders using all forms of social media and video conferencing platforms. This has seen us run virtual training sessions, quizzes and fund-raising activities reaching out across all our age groups.

‘These past weeks we have been able to do much of this one to one in person with the relaxation on coaching which has been received with enthusiasm. Behind the scenes we have a reduced domestic cricket season drafted and just await news on a start date for the return to playing. When we get that we are raring and ready to go and will have a great cricket summer to offer players and spectators alike,’ said Mark.

Tennis is also up and running with players thrilled to be back on court.

‘Fortunately for us, tennis is naturally a very socially distanced sport and we were able to open our doors from Phase 2 of the government’s exit strategy, albeit in a limited way,’ said Lauren Barker, Tennis Development Officer.

‘Although clubhouses and indoor spaces are still closed, members of the respective clubs around the island have been able to utilise outdoor courts. Only singles is permitted at the moment to ensure social distancing is maintained at all times. Coaches have been able to get up and running again with one to one sessions. They have been super busy, with lots of people really keen to be able to play some sport again - and feeling the need to brush up on their rusty skills and lockdown fitness!’

‘The tennis community is very much looking forward to further easing of restrictions, hopefully some doubles and watching some professionals show us how it’s done on our TV’s – whenever that may be!’ said Lauren.

Bowls has also started again with players at Vale Rec slowly coming back to the greens.

‘For us it's about opening it up for those who want to get out on the green and not putting any pressure on those who don't,’ said Matt Solway from the club.

‘A couple of days ago we opened for practice sessions and we are currently collecting responses from members to organise some social competitions for the remaining months of the season. It’s only the first few days of being open so I don't how the membership feel but I'm sure those who have decided to have a go in the nice weather would have really enjoyed it. The green is looking really inviting thanks to the greenkeepers team who have done a fantastic job in the conditions we’ve had.

‘The members I have seen in the lines at the shops or spoken to by phone have all said to me they are missing it. We have put various measures in place and completely understand caution is the way to go, but I am looking forward to seeing as many members as possible who wish to play enjoying the sport of bowls again - hopefully soon there will be a bit a buzz around the place again,’ said Matt.

Athletics coaching is also back on track, literally, with six athletes able to train at Footes Lane at any one time.

‘We have been trying to see as many of our athletes as we can,’ said Tom Druce, Athletics Development Officer.

‘There’s been lots of positivity and being back has given a massive boost to our athletes. From my point of view, it’s been great to be able to coach individually.’

Endurance athletes have also been involved in a virtual inter-insular with the top 12 men and top 6 women over 1 mile and 5 miles recording their times over a set course via Strava with Guernsey coming out on top over Jersey.

Other sports continue to operate ‘virtually’ with Triathlon and Rowing holding a series of online or individual races ahead of the further lifting of restrictions which would allow them to start up again.

‘We are looking at ways that we could race and still comply with social distancing requirements including starting competitors in waves, so they are well spaced out during the race,’ said Emily Squire from the Guernsey Triathlon Club.

The Guernsey Rowing Club will be holding its fourth virtual race on Friday evening with competitors joining in via Zoom on their individual ergo machines. Rowers from Jersey, Carteret, Sweden, Kingston, Belfast, London and Cambridge have competed in previous races. Teams are still keen though to get back out on the water as soon as possible.

Fencing has been holding online classes via zoom and badminton has been posting lots of training videos on their Facebook page.

‘It has been great to see our member sports embracing the opportunity to try different things and the enterprising spirit has been wonderful,’ said Steve Sharman.

‘I know we are all looking forward to further relaxation of the lockdown and seeing sport continue the return to normal operations to the benefit of all our island community.’

Photo by Ben Ferbrache