West Ham United women’s head coach Matt Beard says the health of every single supporter, player, coach, staff member and family member must be the priority following the recent fixture postponement due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Last Friday’s announcement saw all professional football halted, with West Ham United’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League matches away at Manchester United and home to Arsenal and Everton postponed.
Beard, a devoted family man, said that ensuring the wellbeing of each individual and their loved ones has to remain the focus for the foreseeable future.
“The most important thing is health,” Beard told whufc.com. “And that applies to everyone, not just our squad. Being healthy is the essential thing and that has to come before football.
“At the moment, the squad is off and away from the training ground. We’ve let players travel to be with their loved ones, so they can look after their families too. We want everyone to be able to look after each other in these unprecedented times.
“We all need to follow the guidelines that the Government are issuing and trust that this will be sorted sooner rather than later, so we can return to doing what we all love: football.”
Being healthy is the essential thing and that has to come before football. We want everyone to be able to look after each other in these unprecedented times.
With his West Ham players currently away from their training base, Beard confirmed that he, strength and conditioning coach Colm Smith, and head of medical Elena Jobson are working closely with each squad member to ensure they are maintaining their fitness levels.
He continued: “We’re in contact with all the players about what they need to be doing from their own homes and maintaining that fitness in a safe manner.
“Each of the players has individual training programmes to work to, in order to keep themselves fit and fresh so that, when we are able to get back in and be together, everyone is able to carry on as we were. Of course, at the moment, we’re not sure when that will be.
“We, and the league, are looking at the long-term and know we could be talking about an extended period before we return to playing football. We hope we know more sooner rather than later.”
Captain Gilly Flaherty and forward Martha Thomas have offered their help on social media to vulnerable people in their respective areas, as communities look to come together and aid each other amid the ongoing situation.
Beard was not surprised to see the duo give their time and says he knows even more of his squad are helping where they can, such is the type of character in his team.
“Martha and Gilly are both great people so it’s not a surprise to see them offering to help out in their areas,” he added. “I know some of the other girls are helping where they can too, and I’ve got a few elderly and vulnerable people around me that I’ve offered to help with should they need it.
“We have some fantastic people in our squad so I’m not surprised to see them helping where they can. It’s great to see.”