Derby County Football Club Women

Academy Director Hopeful of Return of Season Soon

Derby County Women’s Academy Director Dave Cholerton is hopeful that a return to football this season is still on the cards and believes that being flexible with the structure of the season, could be the key to completing the 2020/21 campaign.

The Ewe Rams Academy has been unable to train or play fixtures since the country went into another national lockdown before Christmas but with talk of an easing of restrictions hopefully by March, Cholerton thinks a little creative structuring would ensure that football returns instead of writing it off.

Cholerton said “With certainty, its got to be safe to return before anyone even thinks about getting back to football but we are hearing positive noises over the last week or so that we have got over the worst and that things will start to improve going forwards.

“Sport has its role in many lives and thankfully due to the protocols in place, elite football has been able to remain and we are able to watch most games in the Premier League and we have encouraged our teams to do that, we believe it helps them better understand.

“Now, its key that we put a plan in place to get the grassroots game going again, it is very important that in anything we try to do, whether its play football or see our friends, it’s right for us both physically and mentally whilst also ensuring that we keep to the required safety measures. 

“We understand its not an easy thing to try and plan but I don’t think we should just write off the season, with a little creative thinking from the FA and working in conjunction with the leagues, we could have a good go at getting back on the pitch and rescuing what has been another difficult period.”

So how does Cholerton see the creative thinking behind returning to football for the Ewe Rams Academy and the leagues they are involved in and what timescale does he think it would need.

“I’ll re-iterate again, its got to be safe, we’re in an environment where there are perhaps up 40 people attending either training or games with players and parents etc so the least amount of people possible will help. We’ve got robust risk assessments in place and we’re always working hard and adapting when needed.

“Though we’ve been trying to keep fit via online sessions, we’re going to need a few weeks getting back into the swing of having the ball at our feet but we’ve also got to be realistic that we’ll need to get going sooner rather than later.

“In terms of how the structure of a match/leagues could go, there are various routes such as playing each other once a season rather than home and away or cutting the length of games down and playing doubleheaders or three team mini tournaments to get leagues played.

“I think we’ve got to be creative and we’ve got to be open for anything. We’re always open for discussion and also open to extending the end of the season if needs be and then having a shorter pre-season next year and getting back to normal if things go to plan. 

“Everyone wants to get back playing as soon as possible, whether that is grassroots football, our first-team and U20’s level and hopefully there is that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel with a drop in cases, the vaccination programme and now we need to look at that plan and get things ready to get going when we can.”