Following last night’s news of a national lockdown, Oxford United Women Manager Liam Gilbert reflected on the current government restrictions resulting in The U’s going without games and training for the next six weeks, with the FA Women’s National League being ruled ‘non-elite’.
“Staying safe and well is the most important thing, as we can only control what is controllable, what we do and how we do it" he said. "We can only go off what the government and league say to us and go from there. I don’t believe that we’ll be playing any football within the next six weeks, and I don’t believe that we will be training within that time. For the next six weeks we will plan to support the players and staff as everyone’s health and safety is the most important thing at the end of the day.”
Assistant Manager Tom Hartley highlighted the importance of everyone taking care of each other at this moment in time:
“I think it’s important to keep as positive as we can in these situations; I heard a coach say recently that, “Football is the most important of least important things.” Naturally, we’re all really disappointed that we can’t play regularly and be at training having that connection that we used to, but when you take a step back you’ve got to appreciate that it is a really serious situation and as much as we’d love to get back on the grass and playing, it’s more important at the moment that we all care for each other.”
With The U’s currently sitting in 2nd place in the FA Women’s National League, one point behind leaders Watford and with a game in hand, First Team Coach Kath Faulkner proudly looked back on all the hard work United have put into the current campaign.
"Obviously this season has been a tough one to get any rhythm due to the stop start nature, but the squad have been fantastic through all of it, kept themselves fit and mentally in the right mind frame and that’s shown in our results all year. That's something we're immensely proud of.
“Looking ahead, it’s hard because we don’t know what will happen next. Obviously, we want to get back to football as quickly and safely as possible. We know there’s more going on in the world right now and maybe sport is low down on the list, but for a lot of people it’s also a bit of a refuge so to lose that at a time when everything else is happening is particularly difficult, especially with the prospect of losing a large amount of work should the season be curtailed like it was last year. Not just for us, but for every team throughout the country that isn’t classed as “elite”.”