'It is fantastic': Joy as youth football takes centre stage once more
- Credit: Mick Howes
The smiles on the youngsters' faces said it all as football returned with a bang.
Development and competitive youth football matches resumed across Waveney and Great Yarmouth on Sunday, April 11 as a full fixture list of action saw scores of games played across the region.
The popular East Point Sports Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League - featuring numerous development matches for those aged U7 to U11, and league games for U12 to U17 - returned across Lowestoft, Beccles, Great Yarmouth, South Norfolk and North Suffolk.
Many teams had not played since last October.
So the return to football - with stringent rules still in place - was a welcome sight as teams complied with the government and the FA guidelines.
Prior to the start of all games, a one-minute silence was impeccably observed in memory of Prince Philip.
Boasting more than 45 youth and development teams - including 11 girls’ teams - and a senior section, a full fixture list was operating once more at Waveney FC.
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With fixtures at Dip Farm and Barnard's Meadow Soccer Centre on Sunday, April 11 boys and girls aged from U11 up to U17 were back in action.
Waveney FC club chairman Mark Gamble said: "We owed it to our members to get back to football - as it is so important for mental and physical health.
"So after re-starting our football activities from March 29 for all youth and ladies teams it has been great to see all the smiles on faces at training and matches.
"It has been a tough time for everyone, and credit must go to the parents, spectators and all the boys and girls, who have been so keen to get back having been cooped up since the first part of this year and lots more last year."
Mr Gamble praised Shawn Staniforth, the club's Covid officer, who has been "very busy" completing many risk assessments after being guided by the Government and FA regulations over the last 12 months.
He said: "We are all very grateful to Shawn for doing a fabulous job in difficult circumstances and doing an enormous amount of work to get everyone back training and playing."
Mr Staniforth added: "There has been lots of guidance to follow, but seeing the players back playing - and that is all ages, male and females - it has been brilliant to see the smiles on the faces at training and now at the weekend fixtures.
"It does fill you with a lot of joy what we have done at this club.
"To see the facilities open again and being used - it is fantastic."