The main rugby clubs in Alentejo lost almost half of the youths in the training levels due to the covid-19 pandemic, but it is in the transition from under-18 to senior age that the greatest concern of those responsible lies.
At CR Évora, the number of young people enrolled dropped "from 200 to around 120", revealed the training coordinator, Armando Raimundo, to Lusa agency, while "next door", RC Montemor went from "120 to 60 young people" raguebistas, according to the club president, Paulo Xavier.
The prohibition of competitions in training levels makes it “very difficult” to keep young people motivated for training, which, since the suspension of all activity, decreed again in January, has been done “remotely” and can have harmful consequences for all a generation.
“It will be dramatic to recover these young people, because they lose regular habits of sporting activity and at these ages they manage to have other types of requests. Let's see how we resume the training levels. I'm very apprehensive about it ”, admitted the leader of the Montemor-o-Novo club.
A concern that is shared by Armando Raimundo, for whom the youth of the sub-8, 10 and 12 "Manage to have some plasticity and recover", but in the age groups of those who are "in a stage of developing their skills in sport", the sudden break in training and competition routines "can lead to the abandonment of physical exercise".
“It is very negative. We have kids who have now gone to under-18 and at the end of the year go to seniors practically without having played at that level ”, stressed the course director of the Human Motricity Doctoral Program at the University of Évora.
Despite the concern of Armando Raimundo, the young João Leal da Costa guarantees that "he would never give up the chance to stop playing rugby", but admits that the lack of competition in his level "has made it a bit difficult".
“Last year, I may have been harmed. He was a player who, since he was younger, always went to the national team. As they stopped and, later, these smaller clubs do not have so much visibility, it is more difficult to be called again ”, explained the young man, 17, from CR Évora.
João Leal da Costa and his teammates have “kept fit at home”, but they know that “it is not the same thing” as being “on the field with coaches and people who really know what they are doing”.
On the other hand, adds the president of the rivals of Montemor-o-Novo, even if normal activity is resumed next season, “we will have a quality deficit in the future”.
“This is like riding a bicycle: if you ride a lot, you make tight turns, climb the Alpe d’Huez, because you have the capacity acquired from the years you spent practicing; if you reach the under-18s, which is a very important level, without playing sports for two seasons, it will be complicated ”, compared Paulo Xavier.
But despite the difficulties, the two clubs have made an effort to keep young athletes active, using digital media to send tasks and challenges that young people must fulfill and send to coaches.
It is the possible alternative, although it is difficult to explain to children under 12, who are in rugby “for the fun, for the most playful part” of the game and “do not understand well”.
The person responsible for the formation of CRÉ understands better, “From the moment they closed up schools, it would be absurd to maintain activity in clubs”, but recalls that, at least in Alentejo, “no focus was triggered” by covid-19 through sports activity.
“There could have been contact and competition with some control. From September to January, there was not a single focus on CRÉ's training context. We had three or four contaminated athletes and none spread the disease, nobody contracted the disease through training. It was all at school and in family and social contacts ”, stressed Armando Raimundo.