Getting grassroots sport back on track in a pandemic

Click to watch a report by ITV News Anglia Sport Correspondent Donovan Blake

The slow return of elite sport, albeit behind closed doors, is continuing apace with the effects of Covid-19 being felt at professional level.

It has placed even greater challenges on grassroots sporting clubs across the Anglia region. It is the height of summer but we've yet to see a ball bowled in our summer sport of cricket below international level. Recreational cricket has been given the green light for games to be played again after 11 July and clubs across the region are slowly preparing.

So far though, it is small scale training groups only. Youngsters at St Ives and Warboys in Cambridgeshire able to practice their skills under guidance.

There is a cautious return to the sporting fields and pitches as need to be social distancing maintained. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The same applies to football. Coaches having to be wary while Covid-19 remains in the forefront of everyone's minds.

It's understandable that the dearth of sport since the coronavirus lockdown has threatened club finances .

Martin Croucher is the chairman of St Ives and Warboys Cricket Club in Cambridgeshire:

"Whilst we have got no cricket, there's also no income and certain bills have to be paid. Insurance, maintenance of the pitches."

Social distancing is likely to be a feature of all sport for some time to come Credit: ITV News Anglia

Grant aid has helped St Ives Rugby Club from standing still in the face of COVID-19.

Steps taken to keep to strict protocols, plus work carried out to improve facilities including new floodlights. The first steps towards returning however have been conducted virtually. From committee and meetings and webinars, to isolation skill challenges for players.

While the new rugby and football seasons are a little way off, there are already casualties in the current cricket campaign.

Leagues being cancelled, including the Two Counties for clubs in Suffolk and North Essex, competitions in Bedfordshire, plus the ECB's Dynamos Cricket initiative. The Cricket Development Officer for Cricket East, Sam Rose said: "We're trying to support those leagues and the clubs within them, to be able to find some adapted versions. Whether that be friendlies, shortened formats of the game." Clubs may be resilient and robust but it's inevitable that Covid-19 will leave its mark.

March 2020: The FA ends this season's grassroots and most of non league football