At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much has changed at the Roscommon Community Sports Park in Lisnamult. That is until you realise the prefab changing rooms are now locked and there’s a new sign-in book at the entrance to the AstroTurf pitches.
Before players can lace up and take part in weekly 5-a-side games, there are also a number of protocols that must be adhered to.
First and foremost, those with any of the symptoms of Covid-19 must stay away while match-fit players must take part in a number of new warm-up rituals. The sharing of water bottles is now forbidden, as too is the use of bibs – so players are urged to sort teams and team colours prior to arrival.
Once at the venue, players must then sign in and provide their phone number for tracing in the event of a Covid-19 case. Hand sanitiser is also provided at the entrance and players are urged to use it ahead of kick-off.
Chairperson of Roscommon Community Sports Park, Liam Stephens, says it’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ since reopening last week.
“Our sign-in book and hand sanitiser is working fine so far. It’s amazing how quickly everyone got used to these new regulations and taking the precautions. Like most sporting venues and businesses, we were a little bit nervous reopening but it’s gone very well.
“We haven’t had any big groups booked in yet so we have no problem with numbers. We’ve had no real issues with five-a-side but things might be different when clubs get back into full training.
“It’s great to see it back open and we’re delighted to see so many groups making use of it as always. For many it’s a critical social event each week as well as a great way of keeping fit. The vast majority of those who use it will respect the new guidelines and hopefully everyone will stay safe,” he said.
In a further bid to keep everyone safe, the Roscommon Community Sports Park committee have teamed up with bookapitch.com so players and teams can now book and pay for slots online.
While committee members and players alike remain cautious, there was a palpable relief following the reopening of the venue last week. A number of players told this out of breath reporter of their need to get back on the pitch following a long and draining period of lockdown. The general consensus was that a weekly fix of five-a-side was not only a vital social outlet and a way of getting back in shape, but also offered welcome respite from the stress associated with Covid-19.
The Roscommon Community Sports Park committee as well as the many casual and not-so-casual weekly footballers will now be hoping the new protocols keep everyone safe, which, in turn, will make sure the popular facility remains open.