The global impact of coronavirus is so devastating that it understandably dominates our daily news and is it now beginning to dominate our daily lives. Each news update seems to bring with it a new set of challenges and restrictions as well as depressing statistics about the spread of the virus and the increasing number of deaths left in its wake. This diet of misery is no good for any of us and can easily damage our sense of well-being particularly as we are forced to be isolated from our social communities and from many of the things that give us pleasure. We have always said that our role is to help facilitate the creation and sustainability of wheelchair rugby communities because our clubs and groups are much more than just a vehicle for playing the game we all love, they provide rich opportunities for us to enjoy friendships and to learn from one another. The fact that currently members can no longer come together in their clubs and groups will be difficult for everyone, but rather than focus on this we need to remember that the current restrictions will end, the fight against coronavirus will be won and we need to be ready to get back to our clubs and groups and to re-engage with those we enjoy spending time with.
With this in mind our priorities as an NGB are to encourage and support you our Members to stay physically and mentally active during this period of ‘social distancing’ and to prepare to hit the ground running when restrictions are lifted and it is safe for us all to come together again in our clubs and communities. So what are we doing?
In line with all guidance, the NGB staff are now working from home but this does not mean that they are unable to support members or clubs. All clubs have the contact details of their particular RDO and are encouraged to contact that individual if they have any particular support needs or questions. We intend to use this period of home working to progress areas of work we have long wished to give additional focus to. As an example we can significantly improve the resources available to clubs and so we will be working on a comprehensive Club Support pack. We can also spend some time on reviewing and improving the content of our website. Although we have recently completed a review and update of the website design and functionality there is still work to do to refresh and renew content as well as provide additional areas to support individuals and clubs such as coaching. We can also prepare our plans for to start inter-club activity again and so RDOs will be in contact with clubs to get your views of what will best suit you. In my mind when all this ends it would be great to get clubs playing one another again as quickly and as frequently as possible, a sense almost of making up for lost time!
In the meantime how do we all stay fit and mentally active? Well to start with we may be isolated from our team mates but most of us will be lucky enough to have loved ones who we live with or will still see. Let’s all of us enjoy this time we may have with them. My own kids finish school tomorrow and so are going to be around the house as I work from home. Having spent so much time away from my family, first whilst a serving member of the Royal Navy and latterly in my current role, I am not used to long periods at home so it will be different, possibly challenging at times but with the right approach could be a unique, positive and very special time for bonding. Maintaining a level of physical activity will be important for our well-being. We are keen to support you with this and are currently working on a set of short video clips which are aimed to provide you with a set of exercises you can do at home. Some of these will be familiar to you but others may be new. As always with exercises, variety is the key so we will be looking to develop a number of different ones which cover stretching and flexibility, cardiovascular and strength work so that there are different ones to try. We will also be conscious of providing different options for different levels of functionality. If any of you have exercises that you can share then please email them to me direct and we will share them with the community. Many of you will also have exercises which stem from your time in rehabilitation – don’t ignore these, they will continue to be invaluable especially those which focus on key areas such as shoulder flexibility. And currently there is also no reason why you should not leave the house, find a stretch of track, or lane, or road where you can just push. Yes you need to follow advice about social distancing and hygiene but getting out in the fresh air away from others and pushing will be good for mind and body.
Finally, we live in a time of instant communication so communicate! FaceTime friends and teammates, talk to them on the phone, use WhatsApp – whatever your preferred vehicle for making contact just use it. We all need to stay together to get through this one. It takes me back to my service career and the thing that got me through some very tense and difficult times was the feeling that I was not alone but part of a community which supported one another and did not focus too much on the negative but looked ahead and planned for the brightness of a new day. Stay healthy and safe.