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Published January 2, 2021

Community Trust Statement

Trust football programmes to pause immediately

Following recent correspondence confirming that Youth (those under 18 on 31 August 2020) and disability football teams were currently permitted to train and play fixtures outdoors only, a further update relating to Suffolk and the East Anglia area was received by the FA on Wednesday, 30 December 2020 with regards to Tier 4 regulations on travel, in particular the following:

1. Suffolk is a Tier 4 area. Essex is a separate Tier 4 area. As is Norfolk a separate Tier 4 area. As is Cambridgeshire a separate Tier 4 area. As are other areas across the country.

2. Therefore players, volunteer coaches, volunteer club officials etc who reside outside of Suffolk should not come in to Suffolk, or vice versa, to participate in grassroots football activity regardless of youth and disability football being permitted.

Example 1 – an U16 team from Suffolk should not play an U16 team from Essex.

Example 2 – a player for a disability team who resides in Suffolk but plays for a team in Norfolk should not be travelling to train with their team in Norfolk.

Example 3 – a volunteer coach of an U12 team who resides in Cambridgeshire should not be travelling to Suffolk to coach a training session.

We have therefore made the decision that due to numerous players based in neighbouring counties that cannot attend sessions we will be pausing our football programme in its entirety until Monday, 18 January 2021 at the earliest. Attempting to carry on regardless would be unfair for those that are unable to attend and we want to ensure all players get the same opportunities and experiences.

Furthermore some of our external facilities have decided to close down in the interim which would again be difficult to justify with some players training and others not able to. We will continue to monitor FA guidance and government developments and look to make a further announcement nearer the time when we can return.

Such a decision hasn’t been taken lightly, the safety of all our participants and families are at the forefront of our minds but rest assured as previous, postponed sessions will be recorded and rescheduled at the end of block 2.

Jason Curtis, head of community, said: “Most importantly, I hope that all our participants, parents, partners and sponsors had the best Christmas possible given the circumstances. The support we have received has been truly overwhelming.

“As we say goodbye to 2020 I just wanted to take some time out to reflect on an extraordinary year that has brought unparalleled challenges to us all. Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in some way, and I send my thoughts and condolences to those who have experienced loss and tough times.

“From a work perspective the challenges this year have been unlike any other as we started 2020 in a really positive position. Fast forward three months and those plans were being ripped up and replaced by a new ‘Build Back Strategy’ in response to the pandemic.

“The response of our team, to re-engineer the business, re-imagine programme delivery and identify and secure new opportunities to support our Trust is something I am extremely proud of. None of this has been easy and tough decisions around furlough, cost controls and salary freezes have had to be made to ensure the sustainability of the charity. Difficult messages to convey when so many have gone way beyond their job descriptions to contribute to our continued success.

“We enter 2021 confident but not complacent, and acutely aware that factors beyond our control will continue to play a large part in our destiny.  We will need to continue being agile and flexible and recognise that there are likely to be bumps in the road.

“This latest announcement with regards to pausing sessions simply shows the duty of care Ipswich Town Foundation, as leaders of football and sports provision in Suffolk and outer areas of the region have for all participants. All activities delivered since we returned from the first lockdown in August 2020 have been COVID safe and secure but in a welcoming, developmental environment.

“No corners have been cut with risk assessments, PPE equipment and ensuring all coaching staff are specifically COVID trained. However although we could technically ‘carry on’ morally the pause is the right thing to do given the continued rise in deaths and infections due to Covid-19.”

Ipswich Town Foundation can boast the following:

– An FA affiliated organisation with Charter Development Club status.

– EFL Code of Capability status.

– Safeguarding Children, Policies, Procedures and Guidelines have been reviewed and endorsed by the Suffolk Safeguarding Board.

As you’ll appreciate this level of compliance and guidance does not happen overnight, as the official partner of Ipswich Town Football Club with charitable status Ipswich Town Foundation will continue to provide the very best progression routes, opportunities and experiences to all children and vulnerable adults in the region.

A few final things for you to remember:

• Our coaches want the very best for your child .

• Our coaches may be fearful for their own, and their families, health due to rising infection rates, even with all the safety measures put in place.

• Our coaches have never worked so hard to provide football and sports provision within the ever changing guidance provided by the government.

• Our coaches will be ready to welcome you all back as soon as they are able to.

• Our coaches care!

If we continue to show the passion and dedication to overcome the challenges that 2020 presented, we’re sure that we can look forward to a positive year ahead. Thank you all for your understanding and continued support, our dedicated team will be in touch again very soon.