Clubs contemplate their return to sport after Zoom meeting discussions

In May, Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing jointly held a meeting on Zoom with Sevenoaks Town Council to discuss how the towns clubs had been coping with their closures since the pandemic started. It was a superb turnout with more than 30 people attending from 14 clubs.

Linda Larter, Sevenoaks Town Council’s Chief Executive, who gave a very warm welcome to the meeting, commented: “We could never have envisaged that the simple pleasure or playing or watching a team sport would not be possible”.

“In 2015 we jointly created a Sevenoaks Sports Strategy – it may be in the light of COVID 19 we totally need to start again?” she added.

Subjects on the agenda, brought forward by the feature Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing magazine produced in their May issue, included the latest news from sport’s governing bodies, finance, club membership and opportunities for collaboration going forward.

Also on the agenda was the return of sporting action after the enforced period due to Coronavirus. We caught up with several clubs after the meeting to capture their thoughts in more detail.

First up was Andy Richardson, Chairman of Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club who said: “Maintaining the grounds and conducting essential maintenance of our assets (eg. the Otford nets complex) is a priority for us. If a decision is made soon on whether cricket will be abandoned for this year there may be a window of opportunity to initiate some work on the square to improve the wicket for 2021, always depending on available funding.

“Obviously under the circumstances, we have unfortunately had to cancel our Cricket Week, which has always been a great social event and a key fundraiser but our Social Secretary and his team are planning a range of events and social options for when we are allowed to get back and reconnect.

He concluded: “Above all, any club is a function of its engaged members and having something ready to go is very important. The Sevenoaks Vine Club, although closed for all business, continues to work on the necessary pavilion refurbishment project”.

Roger Shaddock, Secretary of the Kent Cricket Village League (KCVL) added: “The KCVL will stand ready to provide a meaningful competition if we get back on the field before September. This may mean cup competitions over 40 overs or creating a 20/20 competition, which could result in KCVL cricket not only on the traditional Saturday afternoon, but other days as well”.

“We will adapt and we will bend over backwards to give our clubs something to look forward to. It is so important to be positive and I hope that clubs can bounce back which will need the support of whole village communities.

“For anyone that loves sport, whether that is watching Football, Rugby, Cricket, Golf or Tennis, think about your local club and go and support them and try and play and/or volunteer rather than just watching it. There is a place for everyone and you will make new friends by doing so” he added.

Over in the swimming arena, a spokesperson for Sevenoaks Swimming Club commented: “We’ve already begun the process of increasing our aerobic and technical capabilities through the online zoom classes, the daily training sessions, group workouts, 1-2-1 meetings online and through technical and psychological workshops. This has been a great opportunity for us to aid the athletes development as a whole; particularly with them as people and athletes. This has enabled us as a coaching team to keep our athletes engaged, to learn more about them and to help ensure that they improve as performers once we get back to competing”.

They continued: “As a coaching team, our own CPD’s, planning and scheduling will aid in the transition back to ‘normality’ and put the club back on the right track! We’ve already discussed at length, and continue to do so, about where we feel our athletes may be best placed; ie what training program, with which coach, why, how we see them developing, what’s the best way to do that, etc. We’re not resting on our laurels!”.

They concluded by saying: “Our return is going to be structured and steady; we’ll make sure that it’s right for the athletes”.

The football world at grassroots level hasn’t been given any new advice since lockdown started, with each league allowed to make their own decisions based on the guidelines set out by the government and the Football Association.

Kevin Turner, Secretary of the Sevenoaks & District Football League reiterated that the league had scheduled a virtual Annual General Meeting for July 10th and that they intend for the 2020/2021 season to be kicking off on Saturday 5th September.

He added: “We hope (subject to ratification at the AGM) to be incorporating the eight new teams who have already applied to join the league. We intend, if time allows, to conclude the 2019/2020 season by playing out all of our cup competitions“.

Hockey is no different in respect that England Hockey announce guidelines for all their leagues to follow, however the return of six-person training (whilst socially distancing) in early June, has given the clubs something to work on.

Iain Pearson, Chairman of Sevenoaks Hockey Club said: “We are getting ready for next season. We know we need to be flexible about when that might be, but we are also ensuring that we are ready!”

Over at HC Knole Park, a spokesperson for them added: “We now know that England Hockey will allow us to do some socially distanced fitness and hockey training over the summer. Everyone knows almost everyone at Knole Park and the opportunity to do something active together again will give our members the chance to increase their fitness and enjoy spending time together”.

So whilst we are still not allowed to return to competitive sport just yet, there is definitely some hope on the horizon.

Brenda Bennett from Sevenoaks Indoor Bowls summed it up perfectly for us, saying: “Summer is a quieter season for indoor bowls but, with permission, it is hoped members will be eager and willing to start the winter season at the beginning of October. Until then, patience is a virtue and, as the Queen said, we will meet again, hopefully in the not too distant future”.