Robbie Savage grills Matt Hancock with question on grassroots football return

Robbie Savage put Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the spot and forced the Government to admit: “We want grass-roots football back as soon as possible.”

Mirror Sport columnist and grass roots coach Savage was selected to ask a question at the daily coronavirus briefing from Downing Street – and demanded to know why under-18 footballers were still banned from one-on-one coaching sessions when they were allowed in other sports.

Savage fears the extended veto will have a damaging effect on young footballers' mental health.

And Hancock, whose cheap shot at footballers' high wages last month caused outrage within the sport, could offer no assurances that the blockade will be lifted soon.

Savage said: “It is mental health awareness week and we know how important ALL sport is as a contribution to achieving healthy minds and bodies.

“Why, therefore, is it in published guidelines by governing bodies that junior tennis players, golfers and athletes are able to receive one-one-one coaching sessions – but young people who play the working class game of football are currently not allowed to?

The Secretary of State blustered : “I absolutely get the impact of this virus on people's lives, and for many people being able to play football is a huge release and a positive thing.

“The rules are there about exercise, although being out there on your own is nothing like being able to play football.

“So I get it and I understand why it's a problem. Unfortunately, these rules have to be in place amongst the population as a whole because we've got a grip of this virus.

“It's only by more people following the rules, the faster we'll get there and we'll be able to release social distancing.”

Savage refused to accept the minister's blanket answer, and hit back: “So why are oher sporting bodies allowing one-one-one coaching for under-18s and a governing body like the FA are not?”

Hancock deferred to chief medical officer Chris Whitty admitted: “I fully understand the reason for the question and, to absolutely reinforce your point, exercise of all sorts is good for our physical and mental health.”

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