As a part of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’, the UK government has given the green light for clubs to restart contact and competitive training ahead of their June 12th restart date. Clubs returned to training earlier last week but in small groups with strict social distancing laws followed.
The Premier League and professional sport in the UK has inched a step closer to a potential restart after the government has given them the green light to start contact training. The Independent has reported that it’s a part of Phase Two of the restart which has been published with the support of health officials and sports medical officers. This bodes well for the Premier League’s potential June restart but Sky Sports has reported that the clubs now have to face a key vote on Wednesday.
Sky Sports further reported that the government only decided to implement Phase Two or Step Two after consulting with various athletes, coaches, support staff and multiple sporting bodies. UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston also confirmed the same and also admitted that the “new guidance marks the latest phase” of a return to action for all elite athletes. He also added that this has been designed to limit injuries and help curtail the virus after what has been more than two months spent in lockdown.
“This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to the training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved. We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff,” Huddleston said, reported the Independent.
“Given the wide-ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”
The guidelines revealed that progression into Stage Two is extremely important to help prepare the players for the “return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports”. Not only that, it also revealed that training will initially start with small groups of people (between 2-3) before eventually progressing to larger groups (between 4-12) with the ultimate goal being the entire team. However, at the same time, the guidelines are firm on the fact that social distancing rules have to be maintained at all times.
"Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close-contact [interaction within the two-metre social-distancing boundary] training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact [e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc]. The progression of training into Stage Two is vital to prepare fully for the return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports. Close-contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses," the guidance read.
"Close-contact training develops the sport-specific fitness which is an essential element for player safety and a reduced risk of injury during competition. It is anticipated that engaging in this type of training would start with smaller 'clusters' of 2-3 athletes and eventually progress to larger groups of 4-12 athletes, and ultimately full-team training, without social distancing possible at all times. Under Stage Two conditions, as per Stage One, social distancing will continue to be the expectation at all other times aside from technical training."
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