Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit England, forcing football seasons at all levels to come to a premature end, we have seen a whole host of videos emerge showcasing how the professional clubs have kept their players fit and active. However, how has a club at our level adapted? KDRAFC Media caught up with First-Team Coach Ben Lawrence to ask.
"In some respects, it's been easier than I thought it would be. When Covid-19 caused the nation to enter lockdown, we were unaware of how long it would last and when we might have been able to play football again." Like any person, Ben's primary concern was making sure that his family and loved ones were safe as the lockdown began. However, his attention also turned to Rangers. "My focus was on how we (the Management) could keep everyone safe, and keep the fitness levels of the lads at a good medium. I started drawing up weekly tasks for the players to do, but thought it was important that I lead from the front. With that in mind, I would record myself completing the task first, then post it in our WhatsApp group to try and both inspire and encourage the lads to complete, and hopefully beat what I had set."
Technology has become a main portal during this unprecedented time and, like our professional counterparts, Zoom and WhatsApp have become essential for communication with the rest of the club. "I’d never used or heard of Zoom before this lockdown, but it’s a great tool and we will certainly continue to use it moving forward. Not only has it allowed us to engage with each other with for training and fitness, but we have run many fun sessions and quizzes (mainly football-related) which has helped to keep morale up, which is also a big plus at the moment."
For the first couple of weeks, I kept it simple.
Returning to the issue of fitness, "For the first couple of weeks, I kept it simple. Challenges such as fifty keep ups with the ball, a seven-mile run in a week (spread over five days if needed to keep within the exercise regulations set by the Government), press-ups/sit-ups/plank challenges and a fastest one-mile challenge."
Ben continued, "Needless to say, the lads started to become more competitive amongst themselves, which for this and morale as a whole is a good thing. I was aware that they would need more of a challenge and made the tasks harder. To show that they had completed the task, they had to record their work and post it in the group."
"It snowballed quite quickly," laughed Ben rolling his eyes, "as the lads started to get a buzz out of the challenges set, they would encourage and inspire each other. As a result of seeing this, the coaches, managers and even the media team wanted to take part and push yourselves to stay active."
As part of the responsibility that we have as a club, this has been done within the Government's exercise guidelines. Ben quickly agreed, "The managers and I have stressed this constantly. We are quite lucky that some of the players have exercise bikes and rowing machines, and have been able to go on them. The lads that have had to go out, we have reminded them to exercise within these guidelines and, hopefully, they have adhered to this. The screenshots of exercise completed that have been posted to the group back this up, which is pleasing."
It's a great idea, and one that has brought a lot of positives by keeping everyone active within the club.
Recently, Rob Holliday came up with the 'Let's Get Physical!" challenge, "It's a great idea, and one that has brought a lot of positives by keeping everyone active within the club. We are determined to reach, and beat, the 4000 km target that Rob has set. Raising funds for charities that need it the most is a superb idea. We are in such difficult times financially, just like many other clubs throughout the country, but we have to remember that it’s still important to support those less fortunate."
There is no doubting that we are enduring strange times. However, just like the professional clubs, it’s good to see that our level can harness the same ideas and technology to keep players fit and active, ready for when football does return to Barr Field again.
Ben is sponsored by Clint Tranmer