By Ben Lovell-Smith
In a recent email to Cardiff University students, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Claire Morgan announced the University’s response to government guidelines for the forthcoming academic year.
The University’s verdict on sport is that clubs will be allowed to “meet, train and compete, in line with guidelines set by the national governing body of each sport as well as government guidance”.
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) has therefore postponed the majority of competition until January 2021, meaning that the majority of sports clubs will be unable to play competitively until the new year.
There is good news, however, for fans of the gym, as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor declared that university gyms will be open from September. Sports clubs will also gain access to sports halls, in order to complete fitness training.
However, in line with government guidelines, gym sessions will need to be booked, and classes reduced in time and persons.
Further safety measures will also be introduced, such as floor markings and regular enhanced cleaning across campus, although, outdoor pitches will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Due to necessary adaptations to timetable scheduling, which allow for social distancing, Wednesday afternoons will not be reserved for sport until social distancing can be more “flexible”, or when regular teaching can return to normal.
Despite this, sport has already begun to return. Cardiff City returned to playing football behind closed doors on June 21, whilst lockdown restrictions in Wales have begun to be lifted since July 6.
The decision by BUCS is favourable to Welsh-based sports clubs, as it provides an opportunity for Wales to catch up with England with ease of lockdown, allowing Welsh teams to continue to compete alongside English Universities despite having potentially less time to train.
The postponement of competitive sport is a disappointment for the 2nd team Hockey Captain May Goodfellow whose first season with the armband will be shortened to only a matter of months. Though happy to comply with social distancing measures and university requirements as a matter of safety, Goodfellow admitted to Gair Rhydd that perhaps it might have been too soon for BUCS to make the call to postpone fixtures until January,
“Perhaps BUCS might offer a review of their decision if things begin to change”.
Her argument is not unreasonable, with the world adapting to the pandemic faster day by day. It wouldn’t be beyond reason to suggest that, given time, competitive hockey could adapt to circumstances in a similar way to professional football. If virus testing could become easier and cheaper, this could be realised. Although, it may seem to some as though BUCS may have abandoned ship too soon.
Despite the setback, Goodfellow and the rest of her squad remain positive and eagerly await a return to play “as soon as it is safe to do so”.
During lockdown the girls have been keeping fit with home workouts, under the guidance of coaches Dan Marsh and Ashlea Payne, and comparing their scores on the Facebook page. Vice-captain Sophia Kidd says the opportunity to compare herself against teammates in a different way has been challenging, but great fun.
Cardiff University Hockey Club will be following the Hockey Wales ‘return to play’ guidance, which, under current regulation, restricts training to four groups of up to 6 people, including coaches.
Local rugby also began to resume this week in Wales, as clubs transition into phase 2A where players can organise training in small groups amongst themselves. Organised training (phase 2B), which commenced in England at the beginning of July, can begin in Wales from August 1.
In such uncertain and changing times, these decisions are subject to change. The Welsh Government will meet again on 31 July 2020 to review the current plan for ease of lockdown.