As the social distancing guidelines of COVID-19 are slowly relaxed, Alex Kaufman, Managing Director of the RDP summarises the organisation's actions throughout the lockdown.
It was an unbelievably strange time for us all. One moment there is organised chaos and fun through the delivery of coaching sessions, and continuous opportunities for both participants and staff on a weekly basis, then a forced break in play, and the disappearance of friends, empty astro turfs and no longer being allowed to participate in sports that we all love and adore.
When the news came in that we could no longer deliver to our thousands of participants across Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Peterborough, something had to change…and quickly.
Through the hard work of our management team and volunteers at the Regional Development Programme we launched a series of events to allow us to continue to engage, inspire and connect with our families and friends.
During the early part of lockdown we hosted an RDP Football Quiz night which took place one evening with the company of a whole host of our families battling it out for the title of quiz supremo! The quiz was a great success, with some interesting team names and a very closely fought contest. Alongside the quiz we began our fundraising initiative to raise money for the NHS and the Addenbrookes Trust. Something we felt strongly about, due to the fantastic work our key workers were doing over an extremely difficult period.
Two weeks later we delivered the first of seven Virtual Development Centre (VDC) sessions for our programmes. These included Boys PDC & EPDC, Girls PDC & EPDC, Goalkeepers and open community sessions.
We felt it was important to connect with the participants over a long period of time whilst many of us couldn’t leave our homes to participate in organised activity. More importantly it is key for our minds to have something to look forward to, so by providing this outlet we hoped to really inspire our participants and build excitement every couple of weeks.
It was fantastic to see around 2000 children and young people attend our sessions. The take up was amazing, lots of happy faces and a lot of lovely back gardens and living rooms! May be not so much after the sessions took place!
Credit must go to our team of volunteer coaches who planned and delivered the sessions in a variety of ways, adapting to ensure lots of variation to continuously engage with those taking part, whilst ensuring that each of them delivered a different topic and add new ideas each session.
The hard work put in by the children was second to none, and they should proud of their focus and determination, working solidly by themselves (or with a sibling) for an hour non-stop.
Throughout lockdown we also delivered a number of webinars and learning workshops for our participant, parents and families, and for local grassroots coaches in both the male and female games to interact with.
Our Football & Education male and female participants from Impington, Bishop Laney & TDA had a variety of events from various backgrounds in the football industry including ex-Norwich City FC player Darren Kenton, current Lincoln City Academy Manager, Jordan McCann and strength and conditioning experts Steve Linger and NW Fitness to name but a few.
With the development of the female game, we will be continuing to deliver opportunities for the girls to interact with more role models, so we were grateful for around eight local footballers from Cambridgeshire, Norwich City Women FC Captain Millie Davies, and guest speakers such as Jordan Guard and Laura Kaminski join us to discuss playing, coaching and even running businesses and their career pathways.
Finally our boys programme also had a special webinar with current professional footballer and Republic of Ireland international, Kieran Sadlier, who’s most recent Club was Doncaster Rovers. Kieran provided an insight and question and answer session with our young players about the life in professional footballer and his pathway.
Thank you to all of our guests and of course everyone that tuned in to the events.
At the RDP we also wanted to ensure that our participants remained active away from all of the events they could access with us. Each week a variety of home tasks and player packs were sent out, so no matter if it was an under six player or a eighteen year old participant in our Football & Education programme, they were still challenged, training or given a focus to keep motivated.
In what has been an extremely long time without organised sport, we are now starting to see the lockdown rules lifted and a return to competitive sport is on the horizon.
Here at the RDP we begin with summer courses throughout August, before we return in September 2020 to finish the 2019/20 season, and our 2020-21 season beginning in November.
We can’t wait to get back to see everyone and create more fantastic memories. The RDP is moving into a new structure that will see even more progress made throughout each of our programmes and departments to benefit the communities we deliver in.
Thank you for your patience, support and loyalty.
RDP Managing Director