By Gregor Sleith
The lower levels of Scottish football have been shackled and put on hold again for the time being, with so many people active at grassroots level not being able to see their friends every week at training like the professionals, it can have a real negative impact on mental health especially with the increasing restrictions.
I spoke to Chris Irving, manager of amateur side Dennistoun Thistle FC and qualified referee, who touched on that:
“You finally get a bit of light in the first league game, then its restrictions again. If you’re asking my honest opinion purely as a layman, do I think we will be playing this side of Christmas? No.”
With the league being stopped it was tough for Chris, as It has been for so many active people within the grassroots community:
“I struggled personally for about a month, I was constant before this, I was 7 days a week either working or going to the gym after work, I was managing Saturday morning and then going straight to ref a game Saturday afternoon, then also ref on the Sunday. So, from the mental health point of view from somebody that has got mental health issues it was tough, very tough.”
Chris found a release through running and encouraged anybody struggling themselves to give it a go:
“When your running your mental state just focusses in on that, it’s the best thing, stick your earphones in get out and hit the streets and go running.”
Darcy Molley plays in the midfield for Hamilton Accies professional women’s team who are currently in the SWPL2, she told me how the team managed to keep training over the pandemic:
“Throughout the summer, back when lockdown was strict, we were just doing zooms 3 times a week. We have a strength and conditioning coach, so he was just doing zooms and it means we were still getting to see everyone’s faces.”
Molley, who won the league and cup double in 2019 with Celtics under-23 side, spoke about how matchdays are completely different now:
“There’s no changing rooms anymore, no music. Turn up in your strip and you get your temperature checked. We play our home games at New Douglas Park and the subs can’t sit in the dugout anymore we have to sit up in the stands, so that’s annoying.”
Euan Mclean has been a sports journalist for the past 25 years and he has seen it all when it comes to following Scotland, he explained how he found the current situation for journalists:
“Some clubs were quicker at going back to face to face interviews than others, I know hibs were pretty quick to go back to doing it the way it should be, because there really is no substitute for doing a face to face interview, in terms of just reading the room and reading the nuances.”
With all of us struggling at the moment with further increasing restrictions, if you are finding it particularly hard, get your earphones in and go for a run and try Chris’s advice, it might just be the start of your own journey.