By Samuel Wright
Due to the restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, university students have not been able to play competitive football in Bucks fixtures since March 2020; however, this past Wednesday, this all changed.
No matter which university you attend, joining up with the football team is arguably one of the best things you can do as a student. It is a place where you get to meet new friends and play a game you thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, for 19 long months, students around the world have been unable to do this, until this week.
Weather it was seeing people playing for the first time in a while, the freshers getting their first taste of Bucks fixtures or the supporters being there cheering on their team, it certainly felt like a sense of normality had returned.
With everyone not playing for such a long time, there was plenty of on-field rustiness on show, but no matter what the score-lines ended up as, everyone looked delighted to be playing in Bucks fixtures again which was the most important thing.
Leeds Trinity University Men’s Football Chairman Kieran Clarke says: “It is good to be back. 588 days is a long time and last year, we had a great committee in place who did not get to do anything which was unfortunate.
“My words of encouragement were to go out and have fun. Ultimately, we are here to win but we want people to enjoy themselves especially with what everyone has been through in the last 19 months.”
Also, with the 2021/22 university academic year only just returning, players have not had much time to train and coaches have not had much time to get their ideas across and at times, this showed on the pitch.
It is also important to remember that the majority of players will barely know each other so team chemistry may take a while to build up and again, this was certainly noticeable.
Like in every sport at any level, the more the players train together, the more they will learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses which will only be beneficial in the long run.
“It is important to remember that we have only had two training sessions, says Leeds Trinity University Men’s Football first team coach Luke Lavery.”
Lavery adds: “Even though they have gone well and there are promising signs, it is important to know that it is only two sessions and things will take time.”
Bucks fixtures returning can only be a positive thing for university students and it gives them an opportunity to make a name for themselves as a top player which some of them very much did this when the games returned this past week.
Going up against other universities around the country both home and away is nerve-racking, but if you perform well then it is great for not only your own confidence, but the teams’ as well.
Leeds Trinity University Men’s Football second-team player Joseph Colley says: “Confidence is crucial in football at any level and it is important you start a season on the front foot.
“Considering most people have not played together for two years now, any result for the team or positive individual performance is will be hugely beneficial in many ways.”
All we can do now is hope that there goes on to be a full season of Bucks fixtures without any interruption for the sake of all university students and the universities themselves.
Just from witnessing the return games this week, it was easy to tell that playing football is hugely beneficial for everyone involved and something that has been thoroughly missed for over a year and a half.