Cheltenham Town U18 manager Pete Haynes discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the Robins’ academy

Pete Haynes thinks that Cheltenham Town’s academy has dealt “really well” with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For many clubs across the country, there was uncertainty surrounding the academy games programme ahead of the season. 

Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, which curtailed the 2019/20 academy games programme in March, Pete stated: “I think we’ve dealt with it really well.

U18 Manager Pete Haynes discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the Academy

“We had a meeting with our academy manager, who said if we as staff start panicking and go into a state of uncertainty then our players and their parents will already be in that situation too.

“Ultimately, the time window got smaller and smaller because of lockdown and also all of the parameters that we’ve had to work to, so it was really important that we embraced it and got on with it.”

Even though there has been challenges within the Cheltenham Town Academy, there was clarity that despite the hardships faced, a lot has been learned throughout the past few months. 

Many clubs across the country have faced a number of challenges due to the pandemic, with huge preparation required in order to ensure that the season has been able to go ahead safely. 

Despite this, Haynes explained how despite the hardships that the club have faced and had to adapt to, they’ve benefitted as coaches from the experience. 

“We feel it’s made us better as coaches because we’ve been able to explore other ways of working and I think that we have to take the positives from it. 

Haynes is aware of the fortunate position that the academy is in given the current situation with the pandemic, stating “Ultimately, we’re in a profession that is a sport. No one’s lives are on the line if we lose a game of football.

“I think we need to keep the reality that we’re fortunate that we can carry on working and that the players their can keep playing football as it’s crucial to their development and is also important to their mental health too. 

“Fundamentality let’s embrace that we can still play football and do it because football is massively important in the community, so we need to do all we can to keep it as positive as possible. 

There was a clear awareness that despite the efforts of the club’s academy, they won’t know the true impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on this cohort of players until later on down the line of their careers. 

“We will only know in the long run the damaging effects that COVID-19 will have on player development but until we get to that point, we need to do all that we can. 

“The players have been great, they’ve been embracing it and doing as much as they can, so hopefully that carries on and if players still get the opportunities at the club then I’d hope that we’re still doing something right.”

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