IT is far removed from training as we know it as Saddleworth Rangers are gradually returning to action after the easing of lockdown restrictions.
With strict guidelines to be observed, club chairman Shane Wilson admitted it has been a challenge to get back underway.
He said: “We had a meeting with the junior coaches and put a protocol together for outdoor exercise – it is nothing like training and all about keeping everyone safe.
“Though the social distancing can be reduced, the Rugby Football League said it must remain two metres.”
The return, which began on Sunday, July 5, will be phased and initially for ages 12-16 as well as the open age teams.
And before it began, Shane’s Under-15s held a trial to see how the workouts would operate.
He said: “We are only allowing one parent to attend with each child and there will be no car sharing.
“Balls will be disinfected and there will be hand sanitisers as we take every possible precaution.”
Shane explained how the sessions for his U15s will work.
He said: “My team has 20 kids so that is four bubbles, each with five players and one coach.
“And we maintain social distancing with everything we do.”
Shane added the outdoor exercise sessions will be great for the youngsters, both physically and mentally.
He explained: “They have been locked up and it is about their mental wellbeing as much as anything.
“They are getting back to school and now are able to have a rugby ball in their hands.”
Until the return at Churchill Playing Fields, Shane had been holding virtual training sessions on the Zoom platform.
He explained they were great for maintaining a team spirit while they were done in the safety of players’ own homes.
Shane also praised some of the young players who have raised more than £800 for the Oldham Foodbank and Dr Kershaw’s Hospice by carrying out a series of sponsored challenges.
Boys from the U7s and U12s did walks and climbs, a run and a passing marathon.
“Every organisation is toiling, especially charities who base their incomes on fundraising which has not been able to take place. It is great what they have done,” said Shane.
Shane added there has been no communication from the National Conference League when a return to senior action may take place.
“At our last webinar it was to carry on as we are doing for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Rangers decided not to reopen their clubhouse which could have happened on Saturday, July 4 following the relaxation of lockdown rules.
Shane explained the decision to remain shut was made because they are a fully volunteer-based club and it would have put unfair pressure on them to operate and police the guidelines, especially on social distancing.