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Thursday 09 Apr 2020
Kenny Shiels: This is a time for people to look out for each other

This weekend I should have been preparing the Northern Ireland senior women’s team for a Women’s Euro qualifier away to Belarus early next week.

That game, which was due to played on Tuesday (14 April), has been postponed as well as a further two qualifiers scheduled for June, home matches against Belarus and Faroe Islands. 

Naturally, I am disappointed that the team will not be able to take to the international stage in the coming months. We have been building up good momentum recently, with the players buying in to a more expansive style of play.

We must work together in tackling the spread of Covid-19 and continue to follow the guidelines issued by the Government and the health authorities 

We did well at the Pinatar Cup in Spain last month, producing decent performances against national teams much higher up the world rankings than us.

We don’t know when we will have another competitive match at this stage, but right now football is not exactly front of our minds.

Yes, we are encouraging the players to train at home and follow exercise programmes which myself and some members of my backroom staff have developed in a bid to keep them fit.

However, we are living in unprecedented times in which the coronavirus pandemic is all-consuming, and rightly so.

We may be managers, coaches or players, but we are also human beings with families, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

This is a time for people to look out for each other, and especially for the more vulnerable in our society.

While we are currently living in circumstances that were unthinkable just a short time ago, we must all do our best to adapt to them.

We must work together in tackling the spread of Covid-19 and continue to follow the guidelines issued by the Government and the health authorities. 

I am sure that when we do eventually play competitively again we will be able to count on your support as we bid to climb up the table in our qualifying group and give ourselves a chance of making it to a play-off for the next Women’s Euro final tournament. It was, of course, scheduled to take place in summer 2021 but has now been moved to the following summer due to the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

If we all follow the rules then hopefully it won’t be too long before we can all enjoy football again.

Please stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or work (if you cannot work from home). If you do go out stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times and wash your hands as soon as you get home. Please do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Stay safe.