Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

Looking back at 2021, it might be seen as something of a come-back from the pandemic year of 2020. Yes, at times it seemed as if we were taking one step forward and two steps back as Covid variants evolved, but there was optimism to be gained from the vaccination programme, even though we continue at times to face certain restrictions on social contact.

Having gone through 2020, with almost no schools’ football – local, inter-regional, and international level and having been unable to finish S.S.F.A. competitions – it was heartening, last May and June, to make a tentative restart. Under the guidelines of the S.F.A. Return to Football Hub, the Scottish Schools Football Association were able to complete those outstanding Shield Semi-Finals and Finals from 2019-2020 and it was a pleasure to witness the excitement and exuberance of all those taking part: not just players but coaches and officials too. We must thank Broxburn Athletic F.C., Lochee Harp F.C., Renfrew F.C., Spartans F.C. and Airdrieonians F.C. for hosting these occasions and in particular their attention to detail in terms of risk assessment.

In June 2021, I was fortunate enough to attend an International Friendly Match between England and Scotland Under 15 Girls, at Newcastle University Sports Grounds. Having not being able to represent their country due to Covid during 2020, the girls were able to experience this honour in 2021 with a match against the “Auld Enemy” which they deservedly won 2-1. The victory in itself was special, but it also allowed each squad member to be awarded with an international cap. A proud moment indeed.

I am happy to say that for the most part schools’ football is up and running again. Many local associations have resumed their boys’ and girls’ league and cup schedules, with teachers and volunteer coaches taking care to put in place appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus before, during and after games. I am also delighted to say that inter-regional competitions have been taking place for both boys and girls. This in turn has allowed both Under 15 Girls and Senior Boys International Squads to be selected in preparation for the Bob Docherty and Centenary Shield tournaments, respectively, in 2022.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed being back at school games in Renfrewshire, I have relished organising regional trials for girls and boys and look forward to being at as many local playoffs and cups (as well as national Shield Finals) that I can. There is much by way of positivity around schools’ football within the S.S.F.A. and although anticipating further obstacles in terms of Covid, we remain optimistic that season 21-22 will be a successful one.

As a famous scientist once said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Wishing you and yours health and happiness for 2022.

Robert Allan
President Scottish Schools’ F.A.