Sport's 'unseen absences'

Matt Clark, Head of PE, The Gateway Academy

As a self obsessed sportsman and sports fan, the lockdown has affected sports like something that hasn’t been seen since the war. Cancelled fixtures from grassroots to professional level, rearranged tournaments, cancelled events; the list goes on. However, once professional sport was able to return to our televisions it returned some kind of normality to so many lives, albeit without the core... its fans.

Throughout the past 12 months there has been to-ing and fro-ing of opening and closing sports centres such as gyms, outdoor tennis courts and golf courses. Much to people's upset and anger, arguments about mental health; the unknown of the transmission of the disease has caused safety to be paramount. And rightly so, despite the arguments.

Returning to school sport this year was like no other return. Working out the best way to sanitise equipment, keeping students safe, purchasing extra equipment to enable us to teach safely all while missing some of the core fundamentals to being a PE teacher... the extras! The high-five to a student who succeeds, the physical adjustments needed to so many students for that extra piece of support, the fist bump down the corridor to the student who scored the winning goal at last night's fixture!!!

To the PE teacher, these are things that are missed as much as the gyms and golf courses being closed. The unseen gestures! The fixtures, the after school clubs, the extra strong relationships built on the journey back on the minibus while a student badly sings along with the radio. There is light at the end of the tunnel; clubs have started again, fingers crossed for fixtures next season so that those things we miss so dearly can return! The things that any sports man or woman will understand and appreciate and may not have even realised continue to be missed between teacher and student. But there is renewed hope. Fans being gradually allowed back into grounds albeit on a much reduced scale; test events to ensure health and safety compliance; the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, The postponed Euro '20 ('21) championships across the Continent.

Slowly but surely, participation will increase and PE staff, as well as sports lovers around the world, will emerge wiser and more energised for the experience.

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