WHEN I think back to last season, it’s crazy to think how quickly grassroots football has returned to normal.

Although it would be wrong to say that Covid-19 has stopped having an impact, as teams have struggled at times due to the impact of positive tests, as is the case across the whole of society, it has been great not to have to deal with sport-wide lockdowns, as we did last year.

A huge effort went into getting the season off to a positive start and, as always, I continue to be blown away by the dedication and resilience of our excellent volunteer network.

I know everyone is really enjoying being able to do what they love again, and it is largely down to the hard work of this group, who give up a huge amount of time each week.

Unfortunately, as is the case across the country, referee numbers are down.

We are doing all that we can to combat this, and I would encourage anyone interested in football but not currently playing to join one of our upcoming courses.

As is always the case, things are really busy at the HFA.

Away from the more traditional forms of the game, it’s been fantastic to launch free walking football projects for the veterans and men’s mental health communities. We are in a privileged position to be able to positively impact so many people from across Herefordshire and it is really pleasing to watch those projects grow.

It has also been great to be able to confirm a new 5-a-side women’s league on a Monday evening, again completely for free.

Behind the scenes, we have been working really hard on our 21-24 strategy, which we’ll be releasing publicly shortly.

This contains some really ambitious targets and I’m looking forward to working with the whole team and wider game to deliver.

As we approach the darker evenings, I know I won’t be the only one keeping my fingers crossed that we manage to avoid any further lockdowns and ensure this season continues to go well.