We are into week 6 of the COVID-19 lockdown and I am wondering whether our behaviour and our thinking has changed for good? The impact of the virus will have caused many of us to re-evaluate what is really important in our lives – what are the things that mean the most to us? What are the values we cherish? One of the things which I hope will emerge from this is a recognition that humanity is connected. You may be thinking ‘well that’s not new, everyone knows that’ but if we do all know, do we ever wonder why so many of our actions appear to work against it? One thing this experience shows is that no matter the colour of our skin, or whether we are rich or poor, old or young, a BREXIT ‘leaver’ or a ‘remainer’, a refuse collector or the Prime Minister, there are always things that happen in life which we cannot control, things which make us feel vulnerable and which unite us in a common humanity.
The other thing of interest to me, though I don’t find it a great surprise, is that in reality most of us want to be connected. ‘Stay at Home’ has resulted in us all finding innovative ways to stay in contact with one another and in particular to explore the possibilities that the digital world now offers. I wonder how many individuals have found ‘Zoom’, ‘Teams’ and ‘House Party’ in the last few weeks? One of the real joys of our sport is the real sense of community people experience. Our mission is ‘to build wheelchair rugby communities’, but these are just words unless we make them real by our actions. It’s hugely encouraging to see what our clubs and members are doing to stay connected during lock-down. Bristol Bears, one of our new clubs has been posting daily videos for its junior players which are uploaded to YouTube. The club has also been hosting quiz nights and general hangouts. Virtual pub nights have also been a feature of Northampton and DMP Bulls. Coventry are holding Zoom parties, Crash have had poker tournaments, and Ospreys have risen to the Mohawk challenge – from my experience Dave Anthony will take some beating! Team fitness sessions over Zoom, Facebook video calls, WhatsApp groups and playing online games through Xbox Live are just some of the many things members are doing to stay in touch and to support one another. This is all really good news and it will be important that we maintain this level of engagement as I fear it may still be many weeks before we can safely return to the court.
When this all started we said that we were putting all competition on hold until the end of May. In reality the earliest that we are now planning to resume competition is September and that may still be optimistic. All WR5s players will be especially disappointed to lose their summer competition but we are working on a plan to move the start of the competition to the first weekend of September. One of the real challenges at the moment is that we are unable to get confirmation from venues of their availability to host our games. We will all have to be patient and monitor the advice for when it is safe to return to activity and also hope that when we can restart we will have venues available in which to play.
We will continue to upload training videos and things of interest to our website. Recently we ran our first online coaching workshop which more than 30 of you accessed. This was put on by Lee Parry our Coaching Officer who would be pleased to get any feedback on what you thought of it so do email him. Please also let us know if there are other areas of coaching or club support that you would like us to workshop online and we will do what we can to provide this. Meanwhile look after yourselves and your loved ones, reflect on what is really important to you, and let’s all be thankful for the many who are still out there doing jobs to keep us all going; from the refuse collector, to the shop worker, to the bus driver and of course to our health workers.
Thank you all