“It’s Gone Brilliantly” – Ref In First Post-Covid League Speaks

From The Grass Roots To The World Cup

“It’s Gone Brilliantly” – Ref In First Post-Covid League Speaks

The first six a side league affiliated to UK Socca to resume in the post Covid-19 era got underway a couple of weeks ago, and the referee told us: “The players on the island have been brilliant.”

Guernsey became the first league to kick off post-lockdown when it got underway on the 24th June (pictured above), and it has been so popular that Leisure Leagues have had to work with the KGV venue to get an extra night to house all the teams that desperately wanted to play.

As it was the first one to start, it was also the first one to use the brand new post-Covid 19 regulations that Leisure Leagues announced last month.

According to Match Night Supervisor Mark Fallaize everything has gone perfectly. “I have to say its been really good, so far. It couldn’t have gone much better if I am honest. Everyone’s bought into it.”

The new rules included paying online for fixtures – and we announced last week that our brand new Anyone Can Pay feature meant that it was no longer just the responsibility of the captain and Mark said: “This is massive. It has put everyone’s mind at rest. We – as referees –  are delighted not to have to carry and handle cash.”

The biggest thing that came through when you speak to Mark, though, is the relief: “Oh yes, definitely”, he confirmed over the phone from Guernsey. “No one wanted to be in the lockdown, it’s been horrible for everyone and getting back on the pitch is just perfect.”

Mark admitted he was glad that the Island of Guernsey had been so much less affected than the UK – to date, there have been 70 odd days without a confirmed Covid-19 case – and the more relaxed atmosphere has helped: “Everyone has embraced all the guidelines throughout life in general,” he suggested. “Not just at Leisure Leagues.”

That has included not shaking hands, of course, but Mark did suggest that not even that had lessened the feeling of camaraderie to the competitions. “It’s really important to remember that these players hadn’t seen their mates for a long time,” he says. “And that feeling of friendship is really at the heart of what we do, but everyone has been staying distant.”

The experienced ref – who has decades of of service in the 11 a side game too – is in no doubt about the best rule change, though: “Not allowing players within two metres of the match officials is brilliant. We’ve never had a huge problem with dissent in the leagues anyway, but actually setting into stone that they can’t come close is brilliant.”

If that’s the good thing about the return then the Mark is in no doubt about what he doesn’t like: “The Premier League, without fans is awful!” he said quickly. “And not just because I am a West Ham fan! But football needs the fans, its too sterile when it’s just on TV with no one there. That’s why love these community leagues so much. Real football, real people. Real enjoyment.”

And those six words seem to have resonated with the whole of the Island, as there have been so many players looking to join, Leisure Leagues had to book another night to house them all, as the company’s Area Manager, Greg Allen explained: “I can’t say we are surprised because we knew that people were desperate to play again, but we are thrilled with the response and we look forward to welcoming all the new teams on Sunday.”

The Guernsey league kicked off in a blaze of publicity, with local and national media covering it,

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