Claudia Burrough, the captain of our wheelchair rugby team, The Jesters, has written for us about the work she and the team have been doing to help prepare for a return to play.
In February, The Harlequins Foundation ‘Jesters’ Wheelchair Rugby Club played their first fixture against Crawley Jets but just a few weeks later training was suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time it would seem unimaginable to be here now in November without an in-person training session having taken place, but our team have been busy over the last nine months and especially over the last 12 weeks as we prepare to resume training again. With the closure of gyms and limited resources for disabled people, it was difficult during the first lockdown to maintain physical fitness.
Hollie Smith, our Wellbeing Coach, produced a brilliant wheelchair workout resource bank, which can be found on our website, that allowed our team to keep active from home which especially benefited those who were shielding. We were also fortunate to have a special edition workout with GB Wheelchair Rugby Player and Harlequins Foundation Ambassador Kylie Grimes. Players who were able to benefit from their daily exercise allowance enjoyed the use of local parks.
In September we were given the long-awaited news from our governing body, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR), that we would be able to take the first steps on the road to returning to training. GBWR set out conditions which all clubs would need to meet in order gain approval to resume training under their Return to Play guidelines.
Our first priority as a club is to ensure the safety of all our players, volunteers and staff during sessions. In order to do this a full COVID-19 risk assessment is being undertaken which sets out procedures from reducing the risk of transmission through social distancing and PPE as well as thorough cleaning protocols. We have appointed a COVID-19 lead within the club who is responsible for ensuring all procedures detailed in the risk assessment are followed and can be contacted should anyone have queries. All our staff are also in the process of completing COVID-19 related training prior to sessions returning in order to ensure they are best prepared for our return.
Once training resumes, we will follow the 5 Step Return to Play plan as set out by GBWR which begins with individual training and progresses to small group activity through to full games. More information on the GBWR Return to Play can be found here: https://gbwr.org.uk/return-to-play/
Due to the current lockdown, all physical return to Play activity has been suspended. However, we are still working hard on the planning behind the scenes in order to ensure we can create a safe as possible environment for all our players, volunteers and staff.
Outside of COVID-19 Return to Play, we have recently also had two members of staff complete the GBWR Introduction to Officiating Course, allowing us to develop our knowledge of the sport further and allowing us to officiate our friendly fixtures in the future.