Dunfermline Athletic

Playing it safe

Tuesday, 29th Sep 2020

“When training starts the masks come off and the distancing relaxes on pitch but as soon as they step off the training field the masks have to be back on and distancing observed.”

Since the resumption of training earlier this month “challenging” is the most used word by the Dunfermline Athletic coaching team and backroom staff. Everyone has been doing their very best to comply with government guidance to allow professional football to restart. The Pars Sports Scientist, Gary McColl, is deeply involved ensuring compliance and the safeguarding of players at this time and he told the website:-
“Before the players and backroom staff came back for pre-season, they had to complete a medical screening. Players and staff must also complete daily questionnaires to confirm they haven’t been diagnosed with Covid-19, nor do they have any symptoms or been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus. Daily temperature checks are also done on arrival at training or games to make sure no one has a high temperature.”

If a player or staff members temperature is too high then they cannot enter the training ground, Gary explained:-
“A high temperature can be one of the symptoms of Covid-19 so we need to ensure anyone entering the training facility isn’t showing this symptom.
“It’s great that the club have been able to secure Alloa as a training facility for this season and we’ve been able to set up the protocols we need to around the ground. Players and staff must wear a mask on arrival and have their temperature taken at the point of entry into the ground. Once they’re in, they must continue wearing a mask and remain socially distanced until training starts.

“Obviously when training starts the masks come off and the distancing relaxes on pitch but as soon as they step off the training field the masks have to be back on and distancing observed.”
During the first few weeks of training the pitch was sectioned off into zones with only so many players in each zone at a time. This has meant we’ve had to get a little creative as a coaching staff to plan appropriate sessions for pre-season. Players weren’t able to go back and forward between zones and we had to make sure there was enough distance between zones as well.
“Sessions were limited to 90 minutes which was another challenge when you’re trying to get a whole days work into one 90 minute session rather than maybe a morning and afternoon session. We had to plan each session around zones on the pitch and try to get into each session what we needed within the 90 minute timeframe. Because of this, we weren’t able to use the full size of the pitch or play 11 v 11 in training until quite recently.

“When training ends it’s a case of masks back on, boots off and away home without using any changing rooms or indoor facilities. Normally we’d provide players with lunch after training, but this is something we’ve not been able to do so far either. Players are responsible for washing their own kit and coming to training with their own numbered water bottles to minimise the risk of passing on the virus.
“For the friendlies we’ve played so far, kitman Mo Hutton has issued each player with a full strip. It’s become the players responsibility to take their strips home after games and wash it so it’s ready for the next game. So far any treatment players have required has been done outside as well which has been okay but once the weather starts to change that’s not going to be ideal.”

The gym at East End Park cannot be used either so the players have had no gym sessions at all. Gary continued:-
“We are doing basic strength and injury prevention work on the pitch but it does not quite replicate what we would be able do in the gym. That has been challenging so far because the work we do in the gym goes a long way in trying to reduce the likelihood of injury as well as improve each players physical abilities. Every other club is going through the same problems though, and if we can manage these challenges the best we can, then it still gives us the opportunity to have a successful season.”

In closing Gary said that the rules and the protocols are just something that they all need to adhere to.
“These rules and protocols have been put in place to help keep players and staff safe and it’s important we follow them. Yes, we’ve had to adapt how we do things, and yes there are extra responsibilities on different members of staff to make sure all the protocols are being followed, but if that is what it takes to get the season up and running and keeping everyone safe, then so be it.”

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