More than 25,000 people from across Scotland have now completed an online training programme designed to help sports clubs and community organisations as they welcome people back to grassroots participation.
With the country still in phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map through and out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many outdoor and indoor sports have been able to implement a phased return in line with the latest public health and Scottish Governing Body of Sport (SGB) guidance.
As part of that guidance each SGB, club and community organisation must have an appointed Covid Officer. The Covid Officer’s role is to oversee public health and safety measures to ensure that clubs operate in a safe manner in accordance with Scottish Government and relevant SGB guidelines
With the sporting system working to ensure participants across the country are able to return safely, sportscotland has worked closely with a range of partners including Scottish Rugby and the Scottish FA to develop an e-learning module to provide Covid Officers with key information and guidance to support their clubs or community organisations to return safely to sport and physical activity.
The module was adapted from a Scottish Rugby e-learning programme, which allowed a version relevant for all SGBs to be developed quickly. Since its launch the module has been completed by 25,100 people across Scotland’s sporting system including 11,750 from football clubs and 9,000 from rugby clubs.
Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “It is encouraging to see so many people across the sporting system working together to ensure the phased return of sport is as safe as possible.
"Public health and wellbeing remains the most pressing priority and as a sector we must continue to work together and take all possible steps to continue to suppress the spread of the virus.”
Director of Rugby Development at Scottish Rugby, Sheila Begbie said: “The e-learning programmes are a great way for players, coaches and officials to understand protocols to help ensure a safe return to rugby. It is encouraging to see so many people from across the sporting landscape complete these programmes, and it has been great to work with sportscotland to help develop their course.”
National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said:
“The introduction of Covid Officers is probably the most important single intervention we have made around the return to amateur sport.
"Since we can’t be at every event and every facility, we’re relying on some level on enforcement. We don’t want people getting in to trouble but you have to enforce the rules because the rules are there to protect everyone who is playing the game, their families and the population.
“We came up with the idea that major events and sports would have Covid Officers and sportscotland has put a training package together with health protection staff and expertise from public health. The Covid Officers will play a key role in terms of physical distancing, as well as supporting the more vulnerable in the community and communicating with people who aren’t following the rules.”
A shining example of the Covid Officer role in action is at Westdykes Community Club in Westdykes, Aberdeenshire. The club has over 500 players within 26 teams ranging from age four to adult, so the lack of football was keenly felt, but the club kept busy during lockdown.
Coaches worked very hard during lockdown to ensure that their players still felt part of a team. Online zoom training, mini Olympics, quiz nights, yoga and 5km cycles and runs were some of the ideas the dedicated volunteers came up with. Many of the players also got involved in delivering food parcels as part of the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (AFCCT) #StillStandingFree campaign.
When it was time for training to return safely the club promoted the Covid Officer training to the coaches, aiming for the goal of having one coach from each of the 26 teams complete the training which they have achieved.
Scottish FA Club Development Manager for the North Region Mark Slater said:
“Westdyke Community Club have done a fantastic job of keeping their players and community engaged during the pandemic. They have been both creative and inspiring in the ways that they have managed to keep spirits lifted during these times.
“The club’s work with AFCCT #StillStandingFree campaign delivering food parcels proves that they go above and beyond just being a football club and value their responsibility within their community. Westdyke Community Club have contributed hugely to the great work carried out by our clubs throughout the region.
“It’s no surprise that they, along with the rest of the clubs in the region, have embraced the COVID Officer training as this has given them the re-assurance and confidence to put the correct protocols in place to allow the safe return to football, which will then allow everyone the chance to be back involved in the game they love.”
Find out more
About the online training programme.