AFTER four months of waiting, thousands of kids returned to the soccer pitches this week as restrictions eased across Cork and the rest of the country.
Their return, strict instructions from the FAI, was facilitated by hundreds of dedicated coaches and volunteers.
Carrigaline United, have just under 500 kids in their academy, so needed a near militaristic plan to ensure the safety of their players and coaches. With everything in place, Academy Director David Thompson is counting down the seconds to taking off the locks at Ballea Park and getting the kids out training on Saturday morning.
I’m excited, I really missed working with the academy. I think everyone, coaches and kids, missed it. It’s going to be great to get back to it.
“The main thing for us is to get everyone back playing safely, as quickly as possible. Hopefully there will be no hiccups.
“We have a WhatsApp group for my own age group, which is the U10s. That has about 60 kids in it.
“As soon as I sent a message into it about going back, everyone sent in either a thumbs up or a smiley face. There were no negative comments. Everyone is raring to go.”
The club, who last saw action in December 2020, will pick up more or less exactly where they left off four months ago.
“We had a great system in place and we are going to slot back into it. We are going to get back to what we were doing in December, before we closed down.
“We need to get everyone allocated their pitch time. For the academy, it’s a different hour for every age group. The girls and the Football For All slots in too.
“We have a protocol at the club. It involves group sizes of thirteen kids with two coaches per pitch section.
“We’re going to slot back in where we left off. If there are changes, we will have a meeting and reorganise a small bit.
“On a Saturday our academy runs from nine to half two. We do an hour and take a half-hour break.
“This is to clear get kids out and get the next batch in. This makes sure there are no crossovers between different age groups.”
While they waited for a return to action, Carrigaline United were entertained by the performances of a number of academy graduates in the League of Ireland.
“Over the years we have had some great success at producing players. Some great kids have come through the club in recent seasons. They are great role models for us.”