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Among the many football clubs itching to get back out on the pitch once it’s safe to do so are Heolygerrig Red Lion Community FC in Merthyr Tydfil.

And, thanks to Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund, the club is ready to meet the extra costs incurred as a result of Covid-19, and even broaden opportunities for more kids to fall in love with the game.

Before Covid, the club’s regular training sessions would see five age-groups on one pitch. But the need to socially distance has meant a massive hike in pitch fees, so financial support from the Be Active Wales Fund has been most welcome. 

Venue hire costs account for the lion’s share of the £2,473 grant awarded to the club, while the money is also helping towards coaching courses, training bibs, hand sanitiser, thermometers and goalposts.

Coach Adrian Jones says: “As a club, we didn’t want to pass on to parents the extra costs for things like training and PPE that have been incurred as a result of the Covid pandemic. We are aware that many of our parents are struggling as we are in a high unemployment or low wage area and Covid has had a severe impact on their financial position.”

By setting up new teams for Under 6s and Under 7s, the club is becoming increasingly sustainable while offering even more low-cost opportunities for children to be physical active:

Adrian added: “Each child will have a ball which they can take home and bring back to training. This ensures their safety but also means they can keep active at home. Each age-group will have their own set of goals to avoid sharing and contamination.

“Opportunities to be active are really important – it’s not just about physical exercise but also mental wellbeing and the chance to mix with your friends in a safe and secure space.”

Insight gained from the spring 2020 lockdown suggests that youngsters living in areas of deprivation are among the groups likely to be hardest hit by the current coronavirus restrictions. As a result, Sport Wales is particularly keen to receive Be Active Wales Fund applications from clubs and organisations who need funding to ensure that they are still operating beyond the pandemic, as well as those who have ideas for getting more children active.