What does ‘physical distancing’ mean for sporting clubs?

With the continual build towards a return to sport through the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, there is a very real sense of enthusiasm in the community to get started, but this needs to be tempered with the reality of the situation. There is a potential risk to our sporting club participants, if we aren’t careful – the last thing we want associated with any of our sporting clubs is the words ‘COVID-19 cluster’.  One leading organisation, Sports Community, have been conducting regular live webinars to support clubs with COVID-19 challenges. Recently Sports Community Founder and Managing Director, Steve Pallas, highlighted the challenges sporting clubs will need to address before reopening their doors.  Therefore,  it is critical that sporting clubs wait to receive direction and advice from the State Government, the Chief Medical Officer and/or their State  Sporting Association before determining how this information will apply in their sport and more directly, their club.

Steve’s key points from a recent ‘Return to Play’ webinar include:

  • Club Size – the number of club members is going to impact how a return to play is managed. Booking and scheduling systems for participants/teams may be required. Along with determining who and when participants can ‘play’, conversely the club will need to also consider who cannot come or who should not be present at the facility. This will need to be communicated to the appropriate people, so alternative arrangements can be made. One question to consider would be “How do you manage parents/carers of junior participants, given the current restrictions?”
  • Parking and Facility Entry & Exits – How are you going to guide people safely in and out of the facility?
  • Cleaning & Hygiene – protocols for increased and more frequent cleaning, handwashing and hand sanitising facilities when arriving and before leaving.
  • Equipment – minimise sharing, protocols for regular cleaning of equipment, responsibility of individuals to bring what they need (including drink bottles, towels, etc).
  • Changerooms – Toilets will be the only indoor facilities that can be used – no changerooms or canteen. Players must arrive ready to train and/or play. All showering must be done at home; a key message is “Get in, train and get out”.
  • First Aid – How is this going to be managed?
  • Communication and Expectation – absolutely critical to ensuring that everybody knows what to expect when arriving at a sports facility. Sport and more specifically our clubs are going to look very different when we return to what they did pre-COVID-19 and our members need to know and understand that situation.
  • Self-monitoring of Health – People cannot attend a sports facility if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms and understand that if they do turn up unwell, they will be sent home. The club will be required to keep records of who is at training, when and for how long in order to provide contact tracing information in case of an outbreak.

A return to sport is possible, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted and we can’t afford to become complacent. According to medical authorities, the threat of a second and even third wave of Coronavirus is real. Proper planning and execution is critical to ensure any return to sport is achieved safely.  To view the full  Sports Community webinar, CLICK HERE.