The Berks & Bucks County FA have provided a timely boost to grassroots football in the combined counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire by announcing that club affiliation to the County FA will be FREE for the 2020/21 season.
BBFA Chair Liz Verrall has announced that “As well as free affiliation, clubs will also receive free public liability insurance via Bluefin and free team registration.” There will however still be an expectation that personal accident insurance will be purchased by the clubs themselves as usual.
Given the extraordinary circumstances we all currently find ourselves in, the County FA have also taken the decision at this time to postpone the window for affiliation to the 1st August 2020. Verrall explained that the BBFA “are not prepared to risk the safety of football participants by opening the window earlier” and reiterated that as far as football in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire is concerned “no group face-to-face activities are permissible.”
The CEO also confirmed significant news regarding the various County Cup competitions: “We must also be prepared that the season start may be affected by COVID-19 and, as such, the Board of Directors have confirmed that in the event of the Berks & Bucks FA County Cup Competition programme not commencing by 1st November, then the competitions will not start.” Given that the County competitions in 2019/20 were abandoned, there must be the real possibility of no BBFA Cup matches in 2020/21.
BBFA went on to confirm that the following outdoor football activities are currently permitted, provided social distancing guidelines are followed:
- playing football individually (individual skills or fitness activities);
- playing football with your family or other people living in your household;
- an individual can play football with one other person who is not from their household;
- coaching an adult player one-to-one.
Additionally, maintaining a grass or artificial football pitch is permitted, as long as social distancing and appropriate hygiene practices are adopted.
The following football activities have been confirmed as not permitted at this time, consistent with Government guidelines:
- coaching a child (U18) from a different household one-to-one.
- two or more people from one household playing with one person or more from outside their household.
Whilst the current hiatus is a frustration to us all, BBFA have moved decisively with this very welcome decision to abandon affiliation and registration fees. The County FA should be congratulated for their ‘bigger picture’ approach which will hopefully mean that the majority of grass roots clubs will be in a position to recommence footballing activities when the government decree that it safe to do so.
Nominations for FA and McDonalds Grassroots Football Awards are open now and close on Monday 18th May. Catergories include Club of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and a Rising Star Award. Full details on the Berks & Bucks website here.