During the pandemic, we at DCGS have experienced long periods during which we’ve had to learn from home. Across two separate lockdowns, we’ve also witnessed the cancellation of the sporting events that we know and love. This has left many of us feeling like we are missing something in our lives: not just the sport, but the sense of community and connection with others that sport can often bring. The coveted Premier League was postponed from 13th March until 17th June. Many other professional sports, including cricket and rugby, eventually returned in mid-summer, but without the crowds.

When the pandemic struck, young and aspiring footballers could never have known that their careers were to be affected so drastically. Many English football clubs have had to stop the process of loaning players to other clubs, a practice that helped superstars such as Harry Kane and Danny Rose to develop in their youth. Furthermore, the FA has announced that 124 roles within their organization are going to be eliminated, and many clubs, especially in lower divisions, are cutting budgets heavily.

Billy Dawson, a Year 9 DCGS pupil and Watford youth academy player said: “It affected my experience of the sport by making many changes to the way I could practice and it limited the time that I could spend training and playing within the special atmosphere.” Despite these challenges, many of us have endeavored to keep up with sport and to stay fit and active. Pupils took part in various challenges set by the DCGS PE Team, including the ‘keep-ups’ challenge, popularised during lockdown by influencers such as ‘The Sidemen’. Many have embraced home workouts, delivered online by much-appreciated Youtubers such as Joe Wicks. This has been a lesson for sports lovers and those who are impartial alike; we need to be inventive to respond to these changing circumstances.

However, sharing the highs and lows of live sport with other crowd members is hard to simulate. The Sky Sports Crowd Noise feature has tried its best, but many fans long to return to stadiums, large and small, across the country. When crowds do eventually return in full, clubs are endeavoring to recreate the full pre-COVID experience. Recently in the news, there were the sad plans to release the Arsenal FC mascot known as Gunnersaurus. Much loved at the club and even globally, instead of Gunnersaurus being fired, Arsenal star Mesut Ozil made a public agreement to pay the giant mascot’s salary out of his wages. Much of this isn’t what sports and fitness fans are used to, but it has often brought us together as a community, encouraged us to be resourceful and flexible, and certainly made us grateful for the times before the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic struck.