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Good news!

This week BaseballSoftballUK announced that they have received government approval for their ‘Return to Play’ plan, which permits Softball events (training or games) for a maximum of 30 people to take place from the 1st of August, if their guidance and protocols are adhered to. The details of this plan had been shared with our committee in advance by the British Softball Federation, and following consultation with our members we are pleased to now be able to share our proposal for the next phase of MK Softball re-opening.

Although full games and much larger numbers are now permitted, our goal has always been to keep our members informed of the relevant government guidance, ensure we put all the relevant mitigations in place to reduce risk but also importantly to make our own decisions based on our players’ feedback as to how quickly we intend to return to full play.

Not so good news

With this in mind it is with a heavy heart that we announce the official cancellation of our 2020 MK Softball League & Codebreakers Cup. General feedback is that a large proportion of our membership are not ready to return to competitive play, and this tied with only having two months remaining of our outdoor season, has left us with no viable options.

Moving forward

On a more positive note, the loosening of restrictions does give us more flexibility in what we can offer our members. We shared our proposed plans on a virtual call last week, and after positive feedback, are pleased to outline these below. We intend to launch the new format immediately, however as always, we welcome any feedback or questions before, or once sessions have begun.

The plan

Reviews of our small pod sessions have been extremely positive, with players reporting they have felt safe attending, and have enjoyed the more individual coaching they receive due to the low numbers. We also appreciate that not everyone feels comfortable returning to full size training and games yet, while others are chomping at the bit to do so! We are therefore endeavouring to cater to both camps by continuing with pod training, while offering the option for a friendly game at the end for those that want it.

So what has changed

We are increasing our pod size to a maximum of ten people (previously this was limited to six). The reasoning for this is it will ensure we don’t have to turn any players away, which has been a problem in recent weeks, and will also offer our coaching team some slack as we currently have fewer active coaches available to support sessions.

All pods will begin and end at the same time. Previously we staggered timings to ensure no overlap in communal areas, however due to the increased 30 person limit we can now relax this. However, we would still ask players not to socialise with those outside of their pods on arrival or departure to continue to minimise risk.

Players will be given the option on sign up to opt in to joining with the other pod/s for a friendly game following training. This will only take place if we have enough players keen to take part.

What we expect from our players

We are still asking you to sign up by 8pm the night before a training session, this allows us to coordinate pods, notify players in adequate time and is also our method of support the NHS track & trace process should the need arise. However, should anyone wish to be a last minute addition please do let us know and we will always do our best to accommodate you.

All players attending will need to read and adhere to our Player Code of Conduct. No matter what systems we put in place, they will only be effective if everyone follows them. There are many differing views about the risks that Covid currently pose so please respect our policies if you wish to take part regardless of your own personal feelings.

What you can expect from us

We really appreciate the trust that our players are putting in us whenever they attend a session and in return we are doing everything we can to mitigate risk and ensure that all guidance is adhered to. In order to take this next step we have done the following:

Appointed Sam Gibson as our Covid 19 Officer. It is the responsibility of our Executive Committee to ensure we don’t fall short in our duty of care to our members, but in addition to this Sam has committed to acting as a lead contact and advocate to ensure we stay on top of all the latest guidance and protocols in relation to Covid.

We have completed three risk assessments as instructed to support our return to play. These focus on droplet transmission, fomite transmission and population. You can view them here to find out what on earth that means!

We will be holding virtual sessions with our coaches to ensure they understand and are comfortable with the latest guidance and can in turn, ensure all our players can attend sessions feeling confident of our procedures.

And finally

To the committee - I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have supported us through this process. None of us got involved with the league due to our love of risk assessments or governance, and the commitment shown by everyone to keep us going during such a challenging time, and with no playing reward until recently, has been incredible.

To our coaches – Thank you for giving up your personal time and playing time for the benefit of others, whilst also acting as a cleaner of equipment on the side & all for free! There would be no MK Softball without you.

To the players yet to join us – We completely understand (although we do miss you) and we can’t wait to see you again when the time is right.

To our pod players – Thank you for choosing to spend time with us during this very weird year, and for your continual support throughout this whole process. Please keep sharing your thoughts and ideas with us, they have been incredibly helpful along the way.

Fingers crossed for a brighter softball filled future… Eventually!

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