Newcomers Arthurlie FC Amateurs have thrown their support behind the Scottish Amateur Footballl League’s decision to delay the start of the new season until January 9th, 2021.
I carried an exclusive interview featuring League President Margaret McMillan yesterday, and today Arthurlie representative Stephen Connelly has not only backed the Executive Committee decision, but also provided an insight into the way ahead for Arthurlie given their transition after three years at Under-21 level.
Stephen told me “Firstly, we have got to respect that the Government are dealing with a global pandemic and I expect that no decisions are being taken lightly at that level.”
“I totally agree with the decision of the SAFL Committee to delay the restart until January – they have been left with little option. This at least gives a clarity for us in the short term, rather than playing a guessing game from week to week. It should also be mentioned that the SAFL have put back the date for payment of fees until February, which is very welcome.”
“Having said all that, the lack of reasoning behind the Scottish Government’s decision on football restrictions really frustrates me. There has been no evidence given for the restrictions to Amateur football, and as far as I know, even the Scottish Amateur Football Association have failed in their attempts to get the courtesy of an answer. There has also been very limited information coming from the SFA in terms of the position Amateur football finds itself in.”
“Without any real evidence to support the decision, then it has no credibility.”
“There are other adult levels being allowed to continue playing – in line with the same protocols that we were working under there is no difference. All levels of the game should be allowed to continue playing, in the safe environment that they were providing.”
“People will look at this and think that football is not that important in the grand scheme of things – and they are right to an extent. However, the importance of football to the physical and mental wellbeing of thousands of players shouldn’t be underestimated, nor should the many harms that the wider restrictions are causing. There was a real anticipation for the season ahead and the players were ready to kick on – that’s our biggest disappointment. They individually and collectively worked hard in what we thought was Pre-Season and got no reward in terms of playing any competitive games. We do need to follow the rules that are in place though, there is nothing else for it. We are permitted to arrange non contact training for the team just now, but it’s not exactly viable and with no prospect of games, we are not taking up this option.”
“It’s only natural that interest and motivation levels might drop off over a period of extended lay off, but we have a good group of boys and I’m sure they will be keeping their fitness levels up and will be raring to go again when we can.”
“As soon as we are allowed to resume contact training, we will take that opportunity and hopefully get some friendlies arranged before the competitive stuff starts. It will almost be like a mini Pre-Season again. Hopefully that can start sooner rather than later.”