Weston RFC chairman Land hopeful of grassroots sports bouncing back

Weston Chairman Peter Land

Weston's Peter Land is in his second season as Chairman of the rugby club. - Credit: Weston Rugby Club

Weston Rugby Club chairman Peter Land admits this year has been extremely tough as we all come to terms with coronavirus.

But he is hopeful of a brighter future, writing: Six months ago, I could foresee that this was going to a season like no other and wrote what I felt was an optimistic article in the hope that there was not going to be much suffering.

As a sports club we have found it hard – it is of little consolation that so has everyone and everywhere else.

Now, had I written this article on time then I would have missed the flicker of hope that appeared in the news regarding a possible vaccine. The fact that there has been so little excitement probably reflects the mood of the nation.

The vaccine is not a cure, it appears that COVID-19 is another virus like many others that we will have to contend with and quell with periodic immunisation.

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Ironically this means that as one section of a market economy and a demand for a valuable product brought the virus into our society, another valuable product is introduced into society which will in turn mean a demand being created in another section of our market economy.

Either way it appears that the pangolin loses, and humans will undeservedly win.

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There will come a time when we won’t be able to overcome. That is a sombre thought, but in the meantime the world will keep turning and, the world we live in, changing.

In some quarters we will soon forget 2020 although the treasury probably won’t.

Anyway, this is not the moment to write an article of woe or seek sympathy for humankind or a rugby club, it is not something that is either deserved or necessary.

Shielding in your home, being alone, furloughed, redundant, relying on others to provide you with meals is the reality of this pandemic and for many their lives are at stake from the most innocuous of contact. 

All we have had at our club is a taste of how difficult it is to adapt to an ever-changing set of regulations and introduce them into a rather traditional environment that is being starved of its raison d’etre.

Our issues must pale into insignificance for those whose actual livelihoods and lives are threatened or are having to make critical decisions every day.

Players have found a way to play and train safely and the club had found a way to open its doors and make a bit of money safely.

Weston Rugby Club dressing room

Inside the dressing room of Weston Rugby Club. - Credit: Josh Thomas

All in the game remain hopeful that there will be a return to rugby for clubs in the second half of the season. The league may not happen, but there is still plenty of local rivalry to exploit if we can play.

Like many, we have learnt that we cannot just rely on one product, in our case, rugby to generate revenue.

For many of our supporters, it is the rugby that has brought them to the club rather than the club being the reason for the visit.

Weston Rugby Club stand

Weston Rugby Club Stand at The Recreational Ground. - Credit: Mark Atherton

We have had to resolve to be more energetic and creative – dare I say ambitious – to increase the reasons for visiting the club itself. The challenge is that so has everyone else realised they also have to be more energetic, creative and ambitious too.

When last season ended suddenly, I had no idea how we would survive. Luckily there were rebates and grants coming our way as well as relief from some payments.

This gave us some breathing space but that was all it was.
We have been humbled at the generosity of our members, supporters, staff and players.

We have seen a real collective effort across our club to keep the club ticking over. You cannot separate a £10 from a collection by our youngest players who trained under our lights, several thousand pounds collected by past players, increased support in the club lottery or the sacrifice by the mini-junior section during their anniversary season to bolster club funds in terms of value.

Selfless actions such as these are not just confined to Weston RFC, they are taking place in sports clubs all over the town, county, country and the world.

Weston Flag

Weston Rugby Club's Flag flying high above The Recreational Ground. - Credit: Mark Atherton

This demonstrates the value of sport to large sections of society.
In Weston I am hopeful that there will be a real bounce back for grassroots sport with people who had previously put their priorities elsewhere realising its importance and returning to their chosen game, sport or activity.

Perhaps more importantly, giving it a go or their support.

If this can be replicated in our local businesses, then we might all be better off than we were before. There is a thought….

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