WHAT a difference a month makes.

When I last wrote this column, I mentioned I was hopeful a timetable for the return for grassroots football would be produced shortly.

Little did I know how short that would be, with the FA confirming friendly fixtures could commence from August 1 and leagues from September 5.

Whilst this is obviously fantastic news; it is not without its challenges.

As expected, there are a number of stipulations to ensure that the return to football is a safe one.

This includes the completion of detailed risk assessments, a task which more often than not falls to a volunteer, alongside everything else they do and frequently a day job on top.

Volunteers are the backbone of football and we could not function without them.

Whilst there are some really useful guidance documents to help get ready in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, this is an unfamiliar area and it has been fantastic to see some great examples and a ‘can-do’ attitude from all.

As a result of this hard work, it is great to see that we will have a lot of football kicking off shortly, including the County League in September.

It has also been a really positive month for our Development Centre, with the easing of restrictions allowing boy’s trials to take place.

We’ve also had a great deal of interest for the girl’s trials too, so the centre is shaping up for a really promising 2020-2021 season.

We continue to receive excellent feedback and I’m really looking forward to seeing it continue to grow.

On a personal note, things are pretty busy at the minute as we gear up for the new season in a much shorter period of time than usual.

You won’t hear me complaining however, as the outcome is that everyone can start getting back to doing what they have missed probably more than they realised, football.

None of this would be possible without the support of everyone in the game and there is a real positivity around at the minute despite the challenges, which is great to see.

By Alan Darfi, Herefordshire FA CEO