Coronavirus impact on grassroots footballers in Wigan

Jay Whittle (right) in action for Wigan Wolves. Image: Ed Babes

The captain of a football club in Wigan, set-up to improve the mental health of its players, has described how members are supporting each other through isolation.

Clubs were advised last week that The FA had decided to conclude the 2019/20 season at grassroots level, with Wigan Wolves – a South Lancs Counties outfit – among those seeing their records expunged.

With weekly football off the agenda for the foreseeable future, Wigan Wolves player Jay Whittle says the players have still been supporting each other.

The club was formed last summer to give players an environment to focus on, and talk about, their mental health. 

Whittle, aged 20,  said: “I think it’s just a case of dropping everyone a message to see everyone’s OK, as a player and a friend to a lot of the lads.

“We’re always keeping in contact regularly to see if anyone needs support, whether it’s over the phone or messaging.”

Wigan Wolves captain Jay Whittle speaks to UCLan Live

In a message to his players, team manager Paul Roche wrote: “We all try to make the best of a difficult situation. Maybe grab a ball and work on ball skills, work on your keepy uppy skills…with toilet roll. Keep in touch and talk.

“Little things go a long way.”

Calling time on the season affects clubs in the National League System from steps three to seven while solutions are being worked on for steps one and two.

In the women’s game, results from tiers three to seven have been expunged while the Women’s Super League and Championship boards are in consultation with the FA.

The statement issued by the FA read: “These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders. Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.”