MANAGERS of two Worcestershire amateur clubs have spoken of the hardship the impact lockdown and the pandemic have had on football at grassroots level.

Worcester Royals FC manager Ben Goode (son of Worcester City chairman, Steve) and The New Dales Vale FC manager Dev Ward both agree that people must not forget about the local amateur game, as it is imperative to the overall running of football in this country.

The New Dales Vale (formerly Malvern Vale) play in the Cheltenham Division One North because of the lack of a Worcester Saturday league system.

Manager Dev hopes that an already struggling grassroots system could be affected even more by the pandemic

“Historically, Worcester grassroots has started to decline,” he said.

“There used to be a Saturday league seven or eight years ago and that went and now that’s why we play in the Cheltenham League.

“Local levels have declined in the last ten years, in terms of numbers of players and teams at grassroots.

“I hope that this disruption doesn’t lead to more people and more players deciding to find other things to do on a Saturday, leading to a further drop in levels of participation because without our level, the ones above us will eventually feel the force of that.

“Lots of people think there is no football below the Football League but there are other levels and they need to be helped out.

“There is a focus on steps 3-6 but there is football below that and lots of players at our level feed into that system, people get spotted and move up so there are implications if grassroots is to disappear.”

Ben Goode, who coaches the relatively newly formed Worcester Royals, insists the amateur game is vital for the sport.

“Grassroots is huge, without it there is no football,” he said.

“People play football because they watch the premier league or football on tv, so grassroots is a way in to playing football so without it people wouldn’t have that access.

“So many people just love the game, they might not be particularly good but they play because they love it and it’s so important that those kind of people are catered for.”