I write to provide some feedback following your letter from the 10th March.
I am aware you have now also received a response from John McCrimmond at the SYFA and I would like to take this opportunity to provide some further clarity on the points that you have raised.
The grassroots game in Scotland is and remains a key priority area for the Scottish FA and going forward we believe it can contribute hugely to the recovery of our nation from the Covid-19 pandemic in particular in areas of health and wellbeing and community engagement. We will continue to utilise our football department and regional teams to provide support to the large network of clubs and football groups across Scotland including your own and we will endeavour to maintain good communication in order to understand the challenges clubs face. In addition to this we have as you may be aware engaged with clubs via recent surveys and through these we are very aware of the challenges and issues facing the grassroots game. The data and insight gleaned from these continues to help inform us and our stakeholders on a range of areas as well as shape how we can provide support.
As was highlighted by John a huge collaborative approach has been undertaken by all parties during the pandemic and one which continues as we move out of the current lockdown towards some degree of normality and certainly the opportunity to see the return of people to our national game. As of last week we have provided a further update on a proposed route map for the grassroots game which sets out what is permitted in relation to football in the coming weeks. It is important to note that we whilst we continue to make provisional plans, the nature of the pandemic means that decision making around what sectors within society are permitted to open up are fully controlled via the Scottish Government and linked to public health. The very nature of the decision making process means that we have no certainty and we have very limited prior knowledge on what guidance will change. As and when information becomes available we work quickly to understand the detail and work with the Scottish Government and sportscotland to turn around approved guidance for Affiliated National Associations (ANA’s) and their associated clubs. We do however appreciate that the very nature of this process means that time for planning can be limited. This is the case across all sectors. As part of this process we have and will continue to feedback to the Scottish Government and other stakeholders the insight including challenges and issues around the grassroots game.
In terms of summer football, John has given you some clarity on the work being done by the SYFA. We support this process and the work being undertaken to make this happen and will continue to work closely with all the ANA’s to assist where we can with plans for summer activity for everyone involved in the game. In addition the Scottish FA via our regional teams are in the process of developing a package of support for clubs which we hope to announce the details of in due course. Much of this includes working closely with the Scottish Government, sportscotland and Local Authorities on ensuring that these stakeholders are aware of the plans for the summer months and can support this effectively. We will continue to work with these stakeholders on behalf of the game to make it clear that the summer period provides an excellent opportunity to provide a range of football activity in particular for young people and offers a chance to make up for lost time on the pitch. I am aware that you will also have ongoing dialogue with our Regional Manager, Andy Gilchrist and other staff within the West Region and they will continue to be a source of support and information going forward as I know they have been in the past.
In relation to your point about reaching young people in circumstances of social isolation there has also been some work done with the Scottish Football Partnership Trust which will be communicated soon and again we hope this will in some way address the challenges that some clubs require in order to engage those that are more isolated.
Going forward we will continue to seek insight and understanding from across the game. We are currently working with UEFA on a more in-depth study into the effects of Covid-19 on various grassroots clubs from across Scotland. The findings from this and our ongoing regional connections with clubs will continue to provide us with invaluable information. Please do feedback to our regional staff and provide any insight you have into the challenges and issues your clubs face as you return to the pitch.
I wish you and the rest of the committee at Giffnock Soccer Centre well in your efforts to provide football for your community and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do to achieve this.