Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club, Real Stortford and Thorley Manor back on the sidelines as youth football suspended during third England lockdown
Youngsters are once again facing an enforced break following the further postponement of youth football fixtures.
The Government's tier 4 guidelines allowed youth football clubs to play matches and hold training sessions outdoors, but both the Mid-Herts Rural Minors and Royston Crow leagues took the decision to call off fixtures until the weekend of January 16-17 at the earliest.
And now Monday night's (January 4) announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the England-wide lockdown means the wait will go on until further notice.
Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club (BSCFC) had already taken the decision to suspend all activity due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the region and travel restrictions.
Chairman Grant Hegley said the decision had not been taken lightly, but they had a "duty of care" to players, parents and coaches in the current climate. One of their coaches is currently extremely ill with the virus.
"Our decision has not been taken lightly and is not a reflection of our current practices, but has been taken in the wider interests of the community," said Hegley. "What if one of our players gets injured and has to go to an overstretched hospital?
"[It is also] to ensure fairness for those that live across a border and cannot train/play matches. You will appreciate the logistics of ensuring 'only' Hertfordshire- or Essex-based players are training/playing is virtually impossible to manage/police."
Real Stortford are also not holding training sessions for their players while Thorley Manor are continuing to come up with ways to keep their young footballers engaged, including online coaching videos that can be followed at home.
Meanwhile, BSCFC are lobbying the FA to allow the youth leagues to extend the season to the end of June.
"Should that be possible we could, of course, play matches until 10pm at night, Monday to Sunday, which would allow us to catch up on outstanding fixtures/training in better weather," added Hegley.
"We would extend our hire of the training and playing facilities to match a typical season, so your player/child will get the same number of training sessions, and matches, as if in a 'normal' season."