Dodworth Miners Welfare manager Darren Young believes “getting smiles” back on faces is the ultimate priority when the League Cup kicks off next month.
The League Cup is one of two competitions the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League are running over April and May for clubs in their three Divisions who wish to take part.
The live draws for the League Cup and the Brian and Judith Bradley Memorial Cup are scheduled to be held on Saturday ahead of the early April start date.
The cups replace the curtailed league campaign and although Dodworth had a real chance of winning the Premier Division, Young is pleased with how the league’s hierarchy have organised the upcoming competitions and expects the matches to be very beneficial to players.
“I think it is the right decision (to end the league campaign) and what they have done is good because it is competitive,” Young told Non League Yorkshire.
“Just playing non-competitive games – glorified friendlies – wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.
“The cups have a bit of excitement about them and there is enough games for everyone so it works for everyone.
“The main thing about it is getting lads playing again, getting smiles on their faces and having a bit of normality back.
“The mental health side of things has been massively underplayed.
“There’s a lot of people who have been struggling over the last 12 months, you see that on social media and we’ve got a couple of lads who have found things hard in the lockdowns.
“For us the cup is about getting the lads back in a team environment and having a smile on their faces.
“Hopefully halfway through April the pubs will open and we can get the team spirit back.
“It has been really hard over the last 12 months to keep people’s heads up.
“One because they probably had a sneaky suspicion the league was never going to finish and two because we were a new team anyway.
“We’re just excited about getting the lads together, playing some games and having a smile on our faces again.”
No confirmation has been yet to be received on whether spectators will be allowed to attend the Step 7 fixtures.
For Young that is another important aspect of grassroots football.
“Hopefully there will be spectators, we don’t know yet,” he said.
“I think people tend to overlook the spectators.
“We have people who come and watch our games and their weekend revolves around our football game.
“It is not just us. People finish work on a Friday and things will build up to watching a game, whether it be Dodworth or Barnsley or anyone.
“It is a massive part of people’s lives and it has been overlooked.
“It is important getting grassroots football back, but it is also important getting people back watching the games. For some people it is their outlet.”
One stand-out rule implemented for the League Cup is the banning of players who are playing at Step 6 and above.
Dodworth were one of two clubs who mooted the idea.
Young believes signing players from higher up the pyramid would not have been fair on those turned out for County Senior League clubs in the aborted campaign.
“We mentioned that it was important that players who are signed for each team are the ones who should play (in the cup),” he said.
“It wasn’t about anyone signing players from above. I don’t think it is the right thing anyway, but it was more about that we have a duty of care to the lads who are signed.
“It would be easy to lose sight of things when there is a trophy at stake.
“You could go away and sign six or seven players from above, but what’s it is about is the players who were already signed and committed getting to play as many games as they can in the next two months.”