As we enter a lockdown period following the latest government announcement, the FA have confirmed the suspension of fixtures and training for tiers three to seven of the Women’s Football Pyramid, in which Burnley FC Women play.

Following the suspension, we caught up with Burnley FC Women Manager, Matt Bee, on how this impacts the team, the squad’s plan for lockdown and his goals for weeks ahead.

How would you review the team’s form in the league so far, how have the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 impacted performance?

It has obviously been a stop start season which has been challenging for all the players and staff,  postponements, lockdowns and COVID have made it extremely difficult to train regularly and build momentum. This has clearly been the case for all teams in the league but ours has certainly been a disrupted campaign so far, and when you look at previous seasons when we have won league titles, momentum has played a huge part in those successes.

I always knew it would be a challenging season, since I arrived we have achieved so much success, we’ve done nothing but win games and trophies so a period where we lost a few games was always going to happen. That said we have only lost a few games and have still achieved some positive results. We know that we are effective at this level, when everyone performs in line with our game plans and applies themselves every week in the correct manner, it is small margins that define you at this level and we know that consistency is crucial. We have a clear set of values and DNA which has been established here over a number of years and providing everyone continues to buy into this we know we will achieve success again. It is about working hard now ready for when we can get back on the grass as a group to prepare for the rest of the season.

How will you be approaching this period of lockdown, what are your plans for the team?

It is crucial that as a team we stay connected over the coming weeks. As will be the case for many teams, another lockdown is not what we would have wanted especially given that we haven’t played a game for months, but that said we have to deal with the situation effectively and ensure that we still support the players and keep them in the right mindset over this period.

Each week the players will be sent a fitness schedule which will be crucial to ensuring that we come back in good shape. We will also be delivering tactical sessions over zoom every week to replace what would have been our normal squad sessions. This allows us to discuss ideas with the players and set them problems to solve as a group. It’s important that lots of learning still takes place during this time.

What are your plans, as a coach, for this time?

Whenever there is a break in fixtures it is always a chance to reflect and learn! Sometimes when the games are coming thick and fast you get into a cycle of tactically analysing, planning sessions, delivering sessions and then match day which becomes a constant cycle. I try and do as much personal development and reflection as possible in this time, but lockdowns have been a chance to further enhance this.

I am always keen to read as many leadership books as I can, I want to learn from as many different sources as possible and there are always things to take from different sports. I’ve recently started to apply bits from coaches I’ve read about in the NFL.

I’m still on my UEFA A licence journey which has been great so that is an ongoing process where I’m learning about myself as a manager and it’s always great to link in with the tutors and other coaches on the course. Our next block is at the end of January so that will be another great chance to see what other clubs and coaches are doing and take bits from that! Overall though it’s about having that desire to continually grow and adapt so I can continue to make this team successful.

What are your aims and ambitions for the weeks ahead?

Of course, we want to get back playing as soon as we can! Everyone who is involved with the team is desperate to get back out on the pitch, but we must prepare as best as we can to be ready for when the government and the FA allow us to return. It’s obviously a worrying situation again with the rising number of cases so everyone’s health is the top priority but hopefully we can return safely soon!

It’s crucial that everyone follows the guidelines and rules and looks after themselves and their families. It’s been a tough time for everybody but it’s about making sure that we all stick together and play our part in allowing the country to overcome this current crisis.