Programme Notes - Vanarama National League - Daggers versus Wrexham 29th May 2021 - Last game of the season
That was the week, that was….
During my childhood, I remember local singer Millicent Martin singing the theme tune to a new popular television programme, “That was the week that was”. TW3, as it became known, heralded a new form of satirical humour. Hosted by a very young David Frost and including comedians John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. It was something we had never seen before in the UK.
In more recent times, the week beginning Sunday 15th March 2020 was the one which brought to the UK something which was so different to what had gone before. March 15th to 21st, that was ‘the week’, that was!
Having been given warning of a potential lockdown, I began working from home the week before, but went into the Club on the morning of 16th March to collect some small items from the office. On arrival I was given just one hour to sort out the office, take what I needed and lock up. I’ve been back just a handful of times since.
That week the Trust went into complete lockdown with all staff furloughed. Work in schools stopped immediately, there would be no matchdays for Guards of Honour, no girls’ football matches, the PL Kicks sessions ground to a halt and new planned activities never got off the ground.
A glimmer of hope was offered in August when the Premier League Charitable Fund (PLCF) gave permission for the Trust to operate a two week “PL Kicks Restart” club for children aged 8-12 at May and Bakers Sports Ground. Working under strict COVID conditions, the Trust staff offered many young people the chance to get out, run around, take exercise, and most importantly, have fun. The two weeks were funded using unspent PL Kicks funding from the last 4 months, allowing the club to operate free of charge to the parents. It finally allowed the Trust Manager to get back into the office for a couple of days in the Summer.
The Daggers Trust is part of London United, where charities from the professional clubs in London are represented. All the Premier League, Championship and EFL Divisions 1 & 2 CCOs are involved. The Daggers Trust is the only Non-League member. Last year, London United was given funding by the London Marathon Charitable Trust to operate activities for girls, in conjunction with PL Kicks. This funding was divided equally between the 14 member CCOs. A group of girls from Riverside School was the first to come on board at the start of 2020, but their progress has been hampered by the constant disruptions. Four other groups from local schools were due to commence post Easter 2020, but then lockdown arrived.
After the Summer, schools were still not allowing ‘outsiders’ to return and this stayed the same until March 2021. However, the PL Kicks programme, restricted in numbers by COVID regulations, did restart at Goals Dagenham for a few weeks in September and October but again had to stop when the second lockdown hit.
In December, the Trust was invited to run a three-day activity for ‘Children in Need’ in the Borough as part of the Marcus Rashford Initiative, funded by the PLCF and Barclays Bank. Once again, COVID raised its ugly head and this activity was postponed until.
As mentioned earlier, in March some schools began to invite the Trust back into schools and the work undertaken in schools has continued to grow, with others now asking the Trust to deliver Curriculum PE and extra-curricular clubs from September.
At Easter, utilising unspent funding, the Trust ran a nine-day multisports club for local young children at May and Bakers. Many children were selected by local schools and eventually 50 applied. Over the nine days, with the assistance of ‘Box Up Crime’, the Metropolitan Police Task Force, Dog Units and Local Neighbourhood Team members, the children and the staff enjoyed a fun packed, sporting and educational experience where they were given the opportunity to step outside the box, develop team skills, communicate better, believe in their own ability, and most importantly just have fun. Like Easter, the activities were free of charge, including the hot meal served every lunchtime. The nine days’ programme has since been used as a template for similar activities planned for next week’s Whitsun Break by other Trusts and CCOs across London. In recent meetings involving the Metropolitan Police and the Premier League Charitable Fund the Easter camp has been used to demonstrate examples of very good practice. We must give a shout out to Matt Robinson who brought in a large bag of sweets on the final day and encouraged the first team squad to sign autographs for the youngsters after training.
PL Kicks sessions have restarted on Thursday evenings at Goals with two boys’ groups, one for the 8-12 year olds and the second for 12-18 year olds. Currently the size of the groups is limited by COVID restrictions. A third boys’ group will start next month. A new addition on a Thursday, are the two “Girls’ Only” PL Kicks/London United sessions for girls aged 8-14. The Riverside group are back into the swing on Friday afternoons and this week several other schools have shown a keen interest in not only the girls’ activity, but also starting new extra curricular clubs in the Autumn Term.
Every Wednesday, a group of women aged over 18, meet at 7pm on a Thursday for an hour of fun, fitness, and football. They play in a local park and already have 20 registered participants. This is a revival of an activity which initially began a few years ago with funding from the Wembley Trust and supported by the National League Trust. Fun, fitness and Football.
The Trust staff still can’t regularly get back into the office and have experienced a few major IT issues this week, but none of that is going to stop the Trust pressing on to provide more activities for people in the local area, particularly the young. The restrictions do not allow us to carry out any of the normal activities at today’s match, but hopefully normal service will resume next season.
Whatever those activities are, the emphasis will always be first and foremost about people having fun. Things are on the way up, the Trust is well on the way back and fingers crossed, we can soon forget about that week in March 2020, the week that was.
The Women & Girls football teams are just finishing a long and very strange season. In March 2020, football was cancelled, and leagues were decided on a points per game ratio. The girls were disappointed but that didn’t stop them from working hard to keep fit for the return. Fast forward to July, and they started pre-season training. They were ready to go and start the season. The girls put in hard work at training and completing challenges set by the coaches. The season started well for all 3 teams, but the UK went into second lockdown and everything stopped again. Thankfully, the Essex FA put together a plan to keep the season alive and as restrictions were lifted it was, “Go, go, go.” By playing midweek, on Saturdays, Sundays and double headers, all leagues can finish their season. The hard work from all the teams since returning to training has been second to none. The under 15’s played this season under new management, and the effort and dedication from them was outstanding. In March, they had played the least amount of games pre-lockdown and faced a tough few weeks with 4 double headers. The under 13’s played their first season as a 11-a-side team, again with new management. Stepping up from 9-a-side to 11-a-side is always a tough ask, but the girls relished it! Finally, the under 12’s finished as undefeated Champions. It has been a year to remember for many reasons, and we cannot wait for an exciting summer with open days, pre-season training and the start of the 2021/2022 season.