We are pleased to bring you some good news at long last!
Further to the recent government announcement permitting gatherings of up to six people and updated guidance from BaseballSoftballUK on how this translates to our sport, our committee have been exploring our options for a limited restart of MK softball activities.
This has been a complicated discussion as we work out how best to mitigate risk of infection, and at the same time offer equal playing opportunities to all whilst working with very limited group sizes. We have surveyed players to assess demand, thought about the venue space available to us and spoken to our coaching team to determine availability and willingness to deliver small group training sessions. Baring all this in mind we have come up with the following:
Each week we will run three ‘pod’ training sessions made up of five players and one coach.
Pod’s will have staggered start and finish times to ensure minimal crossover at communal areas such as the car park. The first pod will train 6.15-7.45pm, second pod 6.30-8pm, and the final pod 6.45-8.15pm.
Each pod will train on different corners of the field and our coaches will be working together to ensure there is no overlap in playing space. For example, only one pod will do batting practice or fly ball drills at any one time.
Players will be expected to bring their own glove and hand sanitiser to every session they attend and will be required to use the latter at the start and end of each drill as per the BaseballSoftballUK guidance. Where possible players should also bring their own bats.
Any player without their own personal glove will be required to loan one from the club which they will be expected to keep safely until measures are relaxed.
Our coaches will be planning sessions that require minimal equipment. However, we will also be providing them with gloves for transportation of any essential equipment, and cleaning will be carried out on any shared equipment pre, and where relevant during, sessions.
All players taking part will be expected to adhere to social distancing rules at all times, and our coaches will only deliver drills that allow for this.
Our biggest conundrum has been designing the best way to allocate players and coaches to pods for each session. We have investigated several options; pods linked to teams, or set pods with set training dates, but given the information collected from players when surveyed, both these options had large limitations to attendance flexibility &/or equal playing opportunities.
We have therefore settled on a weekly sign up process. Any player wishing to attend on any given week will need to complete a sign-up link by 8pm the night before the session. Given that we can only accommodate fifteen players per week and almost forty people indicated they would like to play weekly or fortnightly, we are expecting demand to exceed places. In order to allocate places in the fairest way possible, on the first week we intend to use a random number generator to select the fifteen players invited to attend. The following week priority will be given to any players that did not get a place the proceeding week and this process will be repeated over the following weeks. Should demand remain high, players can expect to be able to play roughly fortnightly.
We will aim to notify players whether they have a place at training the night before the session, however if this is not possible we will ensure players are notified by Midday on the day of training at the latest.
Our committee will then allocate the fifteen players selected to the three pods taking into account households first and foremost, but also where possible peer groups and experience to ensure the best possible sessions for all.
Although pod membership will not remain consistent it was felt that as it is likely players would only be able to play fortnightly the risk of one person infecting multiple pods will be minimal. Should this not be the case we may review and amend the process.
Our committee will be logging all attendees so that should any player contract the virus we can notify those that have been in their pod immediately. Players will also have to confirm on the sign up form for a training session that they, or anyone they've come in close contact with, have not exhibited symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 14 days.
We are confident this plan conforms to public health guidance and mitigates risk as much as possible, but as always, we welcome feedback so please do let us know if you have any questions or concerns at this stage. We hope to see lots of you back on a diamond soon, but appreciate that everyone's circumstances are different and thus would encourage members to return at whatever time they feel comfortable doing so.
We would very much like for sessions to begin as soon as possible (Tuesday the 16th June) but there is still some work to be done before we can confirm details such as fees and start date so please bear with us and keep your eyes peeled for further details in the meantime.
Please send any queries or feedback to any of our committee members or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and fingers crossed we will see you all in the not too distant future!