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Return to play

Sector support and advice and support for those delivering sports and physical activity

Updated Mar 29, 2021.

The government’s  COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 roadmap is made up of four steps, with Step 2 from April 12.

This means that all outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, sports pitches, outdoor skateparks and outdoor swimming pools can open.

Outdoor gatherings of six people, under the ‘rule of six’, or two households, can take place. Organised outdoor sport and physical activity for adults and children can return and are exempt from legal gathering limits.

Indoor leisure is open for individuals and households and indoor activities for children. Outdoor attractions and camping are allowed, and community, retail and personal care reopens

Informal sport and physical activity is not covered by any exemptions, and will have to follow the legal gathering limits for outdoors.

Full information on the current rules, a definition of organised outdoor sport and physical activity, and what the next steps in the government’s roadmap mean for sport and activity, are on the frequently asked questions page.

See Sport England’s main Coronavirus page for the latest updates for sector support which includes:

What do you need? Tell us your concerns about return to play so that we can tailor our support to the needs of clubs and organisations across South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

Funding, support and advice

If your organisation is suffering financially or you want help to move your activities online, our staff will try and identify funds that can help.

    • Use our funding for clubs page including a funding finder finder
    • Sport England ‘Return to Play’ fund 
      Here is a quick guide to three of the funds out there:


      Sport England Community Emergency Fund Any organisation delivering community sport and physical activity experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the impact of coronavirus. Grants are available between £300 and £10,000.
      Update: temporarily paused to new applications.

      Sport England have temporarily closed their applications for Community Asset Fund and the Small Grants Fund to concentrate on the Emergency fund applications. They are hoping to re-open them.
      • Virtually Active  is a Yorkshire Sport Foundation project for local organisations that are part of any of our current programmes (such as Satellite Clubs, Active Dearne) that is being primarily funded via Sport England and The National Lottery.  Virtually Active is a small grant programme offering these organisations £200 to deliver free, live streamed opportunities for anyone to get active at home. Sessions will be added to our Virtually Active activity and class finder which helps participants find and join live streamed activities and classes to join and stay active while at home.
      • Support for charities and community organisations from The National Lottery Community Fund.
      • Covid-19 Guide for charities and Social Enterprises – Big Society Capital / Good Finance guidance document
      • The Federation of Small Businesses COVID-19 advice page: Both FSB members and non-members can access this information page.
      • The Good Finance website provides a checklist about what clubs and organisations should be paying attention to and some information about where help is available.
      • There is also a range of other financial support available in each local authority area across West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. Our team can offer advice and support as required. Details of who to speak to can be found here.

Government Information

The Government website details a range of financial measures that the Government has introduced for businesses and organisations experiencing an inability to deliver services.  

These measures include: 

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) 
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments 
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme 
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) 
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England 
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief 
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for  SME s through the British Business Bank 
  • This Government website is specifically for Sports clubs and other VCS organisations that are registered charities.  It guides you through critical questions about getting support to pay staff, use of reserves, governance changes required (such as meeting via video conferencing rather than facetoface), account reporting, and keeping people safe.  
  • On April 8 2020, the Government announced an extra £750m emergency funding for front line charities. We will update this as soon as more details emerge  
  • HMRC tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19): More information about what the helpline can support you with is available here. The number to call is 0800 0159 559
  • The Local Government Association publishes a series of COVID-19 FAQs 


Facility access

We appreciate that it is difficult to access indoor facilities and anticipate changes. For those that can access facilities now, or clubs that want to be prepared to when they are allowed back, when planning your return to indoor facilities think about:

  • Your own club COVID-19 risk assessment
  • NGB guidance
  • How you will adapt your risk assessments to fit the facility procedures
  • Equipment – particularly if you use any supplied by the facility
  • PPE

Sport England and National Governing Bodies of Sport

Support for clubs

  •  COVID-19 Officer Support. Your National Governing Body may have information on their website regarding the role of a COVID officer and what they need to do. Here is guidance to help with establishing a COVID-19 Officer and the role they should undertake.
  • If club officials have a little more time than usual at the moment, here are some online learning platforms about how they can further develop your club beyond the Covid-19 lockdown.
  • Our activity finder now shows virtual activities, and it’s free to use. Here are the virtual activities already listed, and here’s how to get started. We are part of the Open Data initiative and so activities will be able to be seen in national platforms like This Girl Can and Change4life.
  • Sport England’s Join the Movement campaign is designed to provide inspiration and trusted information to the public about how to get active in and around the home during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Club officials can complete the Club Matters improvement tool  for helpful advice on areas where you can enhance your club.
  • Club officials could learn from coaching peers, or pass on some knowledge with the Curious Coaches Club.
  • We’ve worked with North Yorkshire Sport and Active Humber to launch the Yorkshire and Humber Learning Community.
  • Duty to Care Toolkit,  UKCoaching.org, is set across five areas, known as pillars – Diversity, Inclusion, Mental Health, Safeguarding and Well-being.
    The Toolkit will challenge coaches to demonstrate their knowledge around the principles of duty to care. Coaches will be sign-posted to a comprehensive suite of learning resources designed to help them deliver and adapt sessions safely, create diverse and inclusive environments and look after the mental health and well-being of both themselves and their participants.

Club Matters support

The Club Matters website contains ‘Return to play’ guidance, including:

    • reopening toolkit – this includes information on how your club/organisation can plan its return to sport, with advice on what you need to think about across different areas such as reopening your facility and protecting your people. Including a Reopening toolkit template
    • risk register template – this template, with a dedicated user guide, is designed to help your club/organisation introduce or update your practices regarding how you manage risks.
    • creating a risk assessment – this draws from the current Health and Safety Executive advice and provides step-by-step guidance to help organisations address risk, including coronavirus-specific considerations.
    • Understanding your people – How you can gather the views of their people on how coronavirus might have impacted their ability/willingness to return to sport and top tips for how organisations can use that insight.
    • social distancing guidance – this resource covers the different practices and considerations your club/organisation may need to introduce so that social distancing can be implemented in line with current government advice.

Club Matters webinars are now available online and cover a range of subjects:

  • Introduction to legal structures
  • Developing a marketing strategy
  • Planning for your future
  • Participant experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Leadership teams



A new, free, online training platform, designed to equip anyone working or volunteering in the sport, fitness, leisure and physical activity sector in England with the knowledge and skills they need to confidently return to work or restart their coaching activity, as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.

Training covers:

  • Risk assessment and management
  • Health and safety
  • Social distancing
  • Use of equipment and PPE
  • Cleaning and hygiene
  • First aid
  • Travel
  • Communicating with customers & participants
  • How to safely reopen your facility


UK Coaching / CPSU are providing Online Classrooms for ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ to enable coaches to access.

CPSU – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and safeguarding in sport – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents new safeguarding challenges for all those working or volunteering with children. We will compile our latest information and resources for those in the sports sector here.

Safeguarding for virtual activities: Safeguarding guidance from the NSPCC is here and covers online safety, including some good practice where activities are being live-streamed. The NSPCC are working to further develop this guidance and the CPSU will be adapting this for the sports sector.

Mental wellbeing

  • Mind – Sector Support: As part of Mind’s sector support offer there is a series of webinars to support the sport and physical activity sector to do more around mental health. The aim of the webinar series is to up-skill organisations so they are able to support people with mental health problems to get active.

    The webinars cover a range of topics and will be delivered over the coming months. More information and webinar bookings can be found on the Eventbrite page, and will also be published on the website soon.

  • Mental Wellbeing support: This is a difficult time for everyone and it’s important to take time to look after yourself. Keeping up a physical activity habit yourself will help hugely, but these links may just be useful too.Mental health charity Mind has put together detailed advice and information on coronavirus and wellbeing. Practise relaxation and mindfulness to boost your mood. Try this mindful breathing exercise from Every Mind Matters, and read hints and tips on mindfulness from the NHS.
  • Every Mind Matters – Translations of the new Now more than ever mental health “10 top tips” Twitter and Facebook assets are now available in Polish, Russian, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Romanian, Roma and Somali.

Keeping people moving when you’re not able to deliver sessions

We know that this is a worrying time for those who aren’t able to deliver their sessions face-to-face. For some physical activity and sport providers offering ‘virtual’ classes or workout programmes is one option you might like to explore.

However, if this isn’t viable for you and you’d like to direct your existing customers base to alternative home-based or social-distancing-friendly activity options, we’ve compiled a list here. This should help them keep up good habits, ready for when you’re able to start delivering face-to-face again.

Search here for online activities!

To publish your online activity:

  1. Log in or create an account here yorkshire.sportsuite.co.uk
  2. Add your activity,  yorkshire.sportsuite.co.uk/
     and select “Online” location

Yorkshire Sport Foundation are proud to support OpenActive.

We want to make it as easy to find and book a tennis court as it is to book a hotel room.

Making data about where and when activities happen openly available is one step towards improving digital services in the sector.

Our activity finder is provided through Sportsuite that both publishes to Openactive data standards and also shows results from other Openactive standard feeds.

Sport England Community Emergency Fund - June 2020 update

Find out how where clubs have been successful in receiving funding in each district.

Contact our Research and Insight manager Emma Gooch for more information

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