Sport writer Clara Morate provides an update on the effect that the second national lockdown is having on sport at the University of Birmingham
Lockdown returned with terribly impeccable timing, just when parts of life were slowly resuming their natural course and routine. Unfortunately, due to the national lockdown, training sessions and many sporting events including Campus League have been cancelled in addition to both gyms at the University of Birmingham (UoB).
Across the university, sports teams have been forced to close down temporarily until the national lockdown lifts, although there is no promise as to when this date may come. The government’s word that lockdown will be lifted on 2nd December holds little weight after such an unpredictable year, especially when considering that furlough has been extended to March 2021.
It is not difficult to imagine a world where lockdown does not end in early December. As daunting as this situation is, UoB sports teams and Guild sports officer Rob Hegarty have been doing their absolute best to maintain morale and help students stay active.
Due to the different regulations surrounding indoor and outdoor sports during the pandemic, prior to the national lockdown some indoor sports such as gymnastics and trampolining held their last training sessions as early as 14th October. Outdoor sports such as hockey and football fared slightly better, continuing a somewhat routine training schedule before the national lockdown was introduced last week.
Men’s Football captain Sam Jay Thomas said that the men’s football team had been fortunate enough to participate in friendly matches prior to the lockdown. Thomas told Redbrick: ‘we used the UB Sport app to book,’ which has proved largely successful in allowing UoB Sports to conduct COVID-safe training prior to lockdown. The football team, like many other UoB clubs installed safety measures appropriately such as ‘hand sanitising at the start and end of sessions and cleaning all the equipment between every session and group.’ Since the national lockdown, the team have made the best of the situation with ‘tactical Zoom meetings and exercise plans,’ allowing them to continue progressing as a club, particularly with hopes of a return to BUCS action in term two not totally extinguished.
Indoor sports such as gymnastics and trampolining were less fortunate. Alice Dunkley, UoB Trampolining president, told Redbrick about the impracticality of any sort of training or drills being conducted at home: ‘it’s hard to find something similar enough [or] helpful to trampolining that we can do at home.’ Dunkley is unsure about the fate of BUCS and how it be may be formatted if allowed to return after the Christmas break. However, although they are unable to train at the moment, Dunkley remains optimistic for her team as other university sports clubs will be experiencing the same setbacks.
In the wake of these closures, new provisions have been put in place to help students, gym members or not, adapt and cope with staying active during this second lockdown. Advertised on the UB Sport website, students can access online pre-recorded fitness classes as well as live sessions. The page also features an informative timeline of how the national and local regulations throughout the pandemic have shifted with regards to sports facilities.
After some controversy over facilities in the summer, UB Sport will surely be keen to communicate very clearly over the lockdown. These classes, although no equal to attending in-person training, the gym, or matches, provide a lifeline for UoB students in the weeks, and perhaps months, to come.
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