Leicestershire county cricket club hopeful for successful summer season on and off pitch

By Jayden Whitworth

Leicestershire County Cricket Club is in full flow in preparation for the beginning of the summer cricket season.

With the county cricket season set to kick off in April later this year, the team at Leicestershire are embarking on an intricate plan to ensure the safety of players and staff with COVID-19 restrictions still in place.

Further problems arise with fans safely returning to stadiums in May.

The county’s cricket club has experienced a hefty financial impact along with Leicestershire’s other sports clubs, mostly due to the absence of ticket sales.

Vacant: Empty seats as games continue behind closed doors.

Leicestershire and other clubs across the country, as well as the English Cricket Board, will be hoping that they can reignite the nation’s passion for cricket after the success of the Cricket World Cup in 2019 and get fans through the gates.

This summer could prove to be a busy one for Leicestershire County Cricket Club with Virat Kohli’s India set to play at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

Dan Nice, cricket operations manager at Leicestershire, said: “It’s been a tough year for everyone really, but at sports clubs, not being able to get fans in and not having the outdoor events has impacted significantly.

“In essence it has been a case of keeping costs down to a minimum and set prudent budgets for this year and hopefully everything will start to open up again.

“There was never going to be a good time for lockdown to turn up, but in reflection it came at a really bad time for cricket.

“Our team was about to go out on the pre-season tour, around this time last year.

“I can imagine clubs are having a battle with keeping people engaged with cricket as well as promoting cricket to youngsters.”

When discussing the prospect of having fans in the ground when India come to Leicester in July, Dan said: “To have the potential of India here, it just opens so many doors for so many people, obviously the chance for people to see their heroes playing in their backyard is important.

“Naturally it is important for the club to get crowds back in, and the benefits to the financial side, but from a cultural perspective it is such an important game.”

With Leicester having the second highest Indian population in the country, the potential of having India at the Leicestershire County Cricket Ground in late July is understandably creating excitement around the city.

Excitement grows as Leicester City fans are set to return to stadiums

By Jayden Whitworth

Leicester City fans are eager to get back into stadiums as the much-anticipated reopening for live matches edges closer.

Football stadiums have been locked down for just over a year now and with the Government announcing the roadmap out of lockdown, fans will be encouraged by the prospect of stadiums reopening by the end of the season.

On February 22, the Government announced that outdoor, seated events can resume from May 17, allowing 10,000 people to attend or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is lower.

For Leicester City fans this means there is the potential of having 8,000 fans at the King Power Stadium for the curtain closer against Tottenham Hotspur on May 23.

Virtualised: Phil Holloway hosting one of his match day watchalongs.

It has been especially difficult for Leicester City fans as, unlike some teams, they have not had fans in at all this season.

As a result of Leicestershire’s high COVID-19 rates, its stadium was not able to reopen to limited capacity earlier in the season.

Phil Holloway, of Leicester Fan TV, said: “I think there has been a mental health impact for some fans.

“Obviously the bigger picture is that people have to be safe.

“I don’t for an instant want to go to the ground at the moment while coronavirus is still around.

“On the other hand, the fact they have broadcast all the games live on Sky and BT has been a bonus.

“In a way, that is one of the few things that you can look forward to and in a way Premier League football has kept us going in these lockdowns.

“Yes, of course we are all missing the experience, for me it’s going down with friends and family and having that chat before, during and after the match face to face with people.

“We are doing it online now; we are doing online watchalongs and Zoom calls, but it is not quite the same as meeting down there and sharing a pint and debating what you have just seen.”

Phil Holloway and others at Leicester Fan TV have done their best to keep the Leicester community together and engaged by running weekly match watchalongs and discussion with Foxes fans.

Leicester Varsity becomes latest sporting victim to Covid-19

By Luke Williamson.

DMUSports has been dealt another blow after the annual Varsity sporting competition was cancelled for the second consecutive year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

De Montfort University and University of Leicester students usually go head-to-head in a variety of sports every March, but this year’s event has fallen foul to Covid-19.

Josh Lawrence, Chairman of DMUFC, said: “Varsity is the biggest game of the year for us and everyone, including people who aren’t part of the club who enjoy coming to watch and support the teams.”

The British Universities and Colleges’ Sports [BUCS] leagues were cancelled in January before they even began.

No sports have been played at Beaumont Park since October 2020. PICTURE: Luke Williamson

Josh said: “It’s pretty terrible for all clubs and all their members that we haven’t even got a game this season, let alone Varsity.

“For me, as chairman, I am very disappointed in the fact there is no Varsity this year.

“Winning Varsity as a chairman is one thing you definitely want to achieve but, as a player, it is even more unforgiving to have lost the last two to Covid-19.

“Playing in front of a big crowd as we beat our rivals is a great feeling.”

The football teams did have some friendlies scheduled for November ahead of the upcoming league season, but they were cancelled due to national lockdowns in November and then in January.

While the teams haven’t trained together since October either, Josh, 21, has plans to get some football played before the end of the academic year.

“Currently, due to Covid-19, there is not much we can do but, hopefully when students are all back onto campus, we will try and get social events back on.

“Hopefully, after the Easter break, we will be able to get training sessions back on down at Beaumont Park.”

De Montfort FC can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @DeMontfortFC.

Jessica’s virtual DMU soccercise sessions seen as success following switch online

By Tracey Ugwueru

A member of the women’s DMU football squad took the lead to run online football sessions after she took on the role of Soccercise activator but was then faced with Covid restrictions.

Jessica McEvoy, 20, set up a link from the DMU Women’s Football Club WhatsApp group as part of the DMUactive blackboard online programme which students can access easily using their username and password.

Soccercise is run by the university and is part of DMU active which offers free exercise sessions for all students.

It is usually held at the Watershed building near the campus but now has to be done virtually due to Covid restrictions.

Jessica said: “I went to Soccercise a lot last year and really enjoyed it and volunteered to be this year’s activator.”

Students do not have to be a regular attendant to participate at all, they just need to have an interest.

No full kit is required but comfortable clothing is needed, participants need to take breaks when needed, and need to be in a suitable environment to avoid any accidents.

Jessica said feedback from the group has been very positive and students have said it has helped their mental health improve immensely over the term.

Other members of the team have created social groups where the participants can join in on other activities to ease the impact of Covid-19 and self-isolation rules.

As a take on for next year, she said this virtual football session will continue to progress as the team grows more motivated to get active and stay fit.

For more information contact the DMU women’s football division or DMUactive.

Gyms to reopen brings joy to students

by Abigail Beresford

Gyms are set to reopen on April 12 in England, as part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap to lead the nation out of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Prime Minister led an announcement yesterday (Feb22) to Parliament, setting out the new plans of easing the lockdown, to pave the nation towards normality once again.

Due to previous restrictions, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre in Leicester had to close its doors to members, despite plans to reopen its doors again in the early new year.

With hopes for gyms reopening on April 12, and recreational sport to recommence as of March 8, there is a glimmer of hope that the nation is slowly moving back to a sense of normality.

“I really struggled throughout the lockdown period without sport and the gym. It was always a stress relief for me, and without it I just found myself getting more and more stressed out,” said De Montfort University student Billy Johnson, 20.

“The news today really did boost my mood today. It’s always great to have something to look forward to, and this is it for me.”

To keep students and other gym users engaged, the QEII gym has been streaming live fitness sessions on their Facebook page by fitness instructors, leading sessions that include yoga, Pilates, boxercise and many other sessions.

“I attend some of these classes regularly or look back on old sessions that I’ve enjoyed. It’s great that they’re easy to access – it’s really given me something to do over such a long period of time where I’ve been able to do nothing,” added Johnson.

To get involved and to keep up to date on information, visit the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre’s Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/DMUleisure.