Your training sessions might be cancelled, but your team is not!
Our football teams are more important now than ever. We need to do our part in slowing down the spread of the virus, but also address the consequences of the pandemic. The restrictions put in place in most countries increase risks for girls' wellbeing and girls need us now more than ever. We've put together a guide with essential information and tools to support you and your players during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Your training sessions might be cancelled, but your team is not!
Our football teams are more important now than ever.
As a leader you can play an important role in keeping
your players safe and healthy during this time of crisis.
If you're a player reading this - remember that you, just as your coach, can play an important role in caring for your teammates, staying connected and being there for each other through your phone or social media.
We've put together this guide with essential information and tools to support you and your players in this time of crisis. We need to do our part in slowing down the spread of the corona virus, but also address the consequences of the pandemic. Your training sessions might be cancelled, but your team is not!

This pandemic will affect women and girls differently than men and boys. We need to do everything we can to make sure our girls still have support in their football teams, and in you as a coach, throughout and after this period of crisis. It is essential that access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services and information is maintained.

The extraordinary circumstances that we are currently in, and the measures put in place by our governments are all trying to slow down the spread of the virus. And, even with the best intention, this has consequences. Practicing social distancing, isolation or quarantine puts you and your players at increased risk of anxiety and stress, but also at financial hardship, and violence. We know that during crises, the risk of intimate partner abuse and violence, including sexual abuse, increase. This is likely to increase even more when we have to stay isolated, and there is already an increase in violence recorded across the globe related to the pandemic.

When everyone's attention is shifted towards the corona pandemic, we need to maintain our focus and support girls' wellbeing (both physical and mental) and continue to offer information around sexual and reproductive health and rights. We need to continue to raise awareness of unsafe sex,
and in particular the increased risks of unintended pregnancies and HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) transmission, and its consequences in a time where health care is difficult to access. We also need to support and motivate our players to return to school, once they open again, in places where schools are now closed.

In a crisis, community is more important than ever. In this crisis, the nature of transmission makes it difficult to be close to the ones you love. Therefore, we should do our very best to maintain contact over phone, WhatsApp, instagram, snapchat, zoom and other platforms and continue to be a team. We can use our networks of leaders, players and their families, to spread information about what we can all do to slow down the spread of the virus – to play our part in flattening the curve of infections.

We will get through this, and together we can really make a difference and ensure that our girls stay healthy, safe and supported!

Please read through this guide and reach out if you have any questions or need support on our WhatsApp hotline: +46705863119. Remember that as a leader, you are part of a large network and team of leaders all over the world, and we are here to support you!
Mental Wellbeing
All around the world, we are facing the Covid-19/corona pandemic, and all over the world unprecedented measures are taken to restrict the spread of the corona virus – in many places forcing us to dramatically change how we go about our everyday life and how we interact with others. In the crisis of the pandemic, we live in rapidly changing and uncertain times. This is temporary – but here and now, we might feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and worried, about the disease, if and how it will affect our loved ones, and about its consequences for you personally and for society. That's a normal and healthy reaction. Anxiety is a usual reaction that alerts us and helps us to take action to protect ourselves. In this case, your anxiety will help you to remember to wash your hands, to not touch your face and to keep a distance from other people, to keep you safe. However, anxiety and stress doesn't make us feel good if we feel that way for a longer period of time or if the feelings of anxiety and distress take over and constrains us.

As leaders and fellow players, we know the players in our team and their conditions at home, we know how they're normally feeling and we know who of us are stressed, anxious and worried about the future. These players' feelings might become worse by the current crisis, but also other players might feel worried, anxious and stressed.

Everyone reacts differently and as you know some will express their feelings more than others, so please take the time to reach out to all your players and ask them how they're doing. Let them know that you're there for them even when the training sessions are cancelled.

For those of you that can still hold your training sessions outdoors, take some extra time at each session to talk and give players a safe space to express themselves - but also do give them corona-free time to play, have fun and feel good. Finding the balance between talking about corona and not talking about it will be key.

This is also important if your training sessions are cancelled - find ways to engage your players to continue to play, have fun and exercise. We have created Força Lockdown Sessions - football training sessions that you can do at home. We hope that this can inspire you to keep training! Why not gather your entire team through a video call for a training session together as usual but online?
We've put together a list of things you can do to take care of your mental wellbeing and feel good:
Stay in touch with family and friends – social distancing does not mean we can't communicate. Stay connected through phone calls and social media. If your football team doesn't have a WhatsApp group – create one, and remember that your training sessions might be cancelled, but your team is not!
Express your feelings. By putting words on your feelings, it may be easier to deal with them. Talk with someone about how you feel or write down how you feel. And if you do feel worried, stressed or anxious, remember that there is always someone to talk to. Your football coach and team are there to support you! If you need help, please ask for it!
Try to follow your ordinary routines as much as possible. Have daily routines – continue to structure your days as you would normally even though you perhaps now need to stay at home. Adapt your routines to the circumstances or create new ones. If you continue having a routine, it will keep your daily rhythm and wellbeing.
Keep active! Continue to exercise and create a daily workout – there are so many different online training sessions you can follow! You can even still play football at home, check out our Força Lockdown Sessions and don't let the corona virus stop you from playing and having fun!
Try to get fresh air, sunlight and be outdoors as much as you can. Even if it's just opening the windows, fresh air and sunlight will benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Take care with news and information. Stay up to date with what's happening but be careful where you get news and information from since there is a lot of false information about the corona virus posted online. Don't overconsume news, since this might intensify your feelings of anxiety and stress. Instead of checking news constantly throughout your day, limit it to once or twice per day – and you will stay up to date with any developments, without letting the corona virus take over your life.
Think about and care for other people, like your family, friends and teammates. We know that our mental wellbeing increases when we think about and care for others than ourselves. Now is a great time to reach out to other people and put a smile on their face! If you're young and healthy, you can help people in risk groups (elderly and people with chronic and immune deficiency illnesses) with their grocery shopping, fetching their medicines at the pharmacy or running other important errands. This is a great way to support those at risk and keeping our communities safe. And remember, by you being cautious, staying at home and following restrictions – you are doing your part in mitigating the spread of the virus and saving lives!
Remind yourself everyday about the beautiful things in life. Ask yourself every day what you are grateful for; what made you smile today?
Domestic and Gender-based Violence & Sexual Abuse
In times of crisis and economic hardship, gender-based and domestic violence and abuse increases. Right now, as a measure to combat the spread of the corona virus, most countries have introduced strict restrictions requiring people to stay at home. These restrictions are temporary, but they increase risks of gender-based violence and abuse in the home. Being in isolation at home during the corona pandemic can provoke increased tension and frustration and trigger stressful situations and violent behaviour in your home. Remember that violence is never acceptable! There is no reason, no situation and no circumstances that make violence acceptable. Violence can be physical, phycological, verbal and sexual. In whatever form violence is wrong. Girls are often told that they did something wrong to deserve violence, and that they should be ashamed. This is wrong. Violence is never justified and never your fault, under any circumstances.

If you have or if you are worried that you might suffer from violence or abuse, don't keep it to yourself. You are not alone. Share it with your coach or someone in your team, and let your coach and team support you. Remember that even though your training sessions might be cancelled, your team is not! Your coach and team are there to support you and can also guide you to professional care if you would like to. As a leader, make sure you know what online websites and forums and hotlines you can refer your players to if they need professional support. If a player really would need to access a health clinic or women's shelter, make sure that you are up to date with any changes in opening hours, so that you know where you can refer your players for professional support if needed.

Lessons learned from school closures during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia show that teenage pregnancies increased significantly, and few girls returned to school once the schools reopened. Enforced inactivity and lack of oversight now that schools in many countries have closed due to the corona pandemic, leave girls more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, sexual assault and rape. Increased vulnerability and economic hardship can increase the risk of girls engaging in transactional sex to support their family. As more girls move their socializing and hobbies online, their vulnerability also increases online, where girls are already at high risk of being subjected to sexual abuse. We need to safeguard girls from situations of abuse and ensure that they are aware of their rights:

You have the right to decide over your own body. You have the right to have your own body and its boundaries respected. You have the right not to have others forcing you to do something you do not want.

Being in isolation at home during the pandemic can cause increased tension and frustration and trigger stressful situations and violent behaviour in your home. Remember that violence is never acceptable! You are not alone – call your coach or get support through our WhatsApp hotline: +46705863119.
Safe & Consensual Sex in Isolation during Crisis
Sex does not stop because of a pandemic. Sexual activity and pregnancies, whether planned or unplanned, will continue. But when women and girls cannot access contraception, risks of unintended pregnancies increase. Due to the global shutdown of manufacturing and trade, there might be a shortage of contraception and abortion methods, and of condoms in particular. However, the UN and other world leaders are trying to make sure the commodities can still be procured and made available as much as possible. During the Ebola outbreak, in addition to the significant increase in teenage pregnancies, increases in unwanted sex and transactional sex were recorded. Therefore, it is very important that we continue to talk with our players about safe and consensual sex.

As always if you're sexually active it's really important that you practice safe and consensual sex. Being in isolation at home can cause increased tension and trigger violent behaviour in your home and in your relationships. Remember that violence in any form, be it physical, psychological, verbal or sexual, is not acceptable. You should only be intimate with someone, and only have sex, if you want to. Sex needs to be consensual, meaning that both you and your partner need to express that you want to have sex before you do it. If you have sex, and you at any point change your mind – this is completely normal and okay, and you can just tell your partner. Once you say that you don't want to do it, you are not giving your consent and your partner can then not force you to do something you do not want. The only thing that means yes is a yes. A no, a maybe, or no response should be considered as a no. You have the right to decide over your own body and have your body and its boundaries respected.

Once you and your partner have given your consent, remember to use contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Covid-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection. However, the virus does transmit easily and through droplets of saliva. That means that having sex is a high risk activity for transmitting the corona virus. You can also still get other sexually transmitted diseases. Since health care systems are burdened by the pandemic, you might not get the health services you need if you get a sexually transmitted disease or if you get pregnant unwillingly. During the pandemic, it is very important that you only have sex with your existing partner that you already share an household with to avoid spreading the corona virus. This can be frustrating and lonely sometimes for those who do not have a partner, but you can still have safe sex on your own: there's always masturbation.

When health systems are overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, it may also be difficult to access contraceptive and abortion methods. Think about stocking up on your contraceptives in advance, and/or use a condom to avoid unintended pregnancy. If you run out of condoms, and you can't get new ones, then think about the risks of unsafe sex and be smart – choose other forms of sex than penetrating sex to stay safe, healthy and keep your future in your own hands. If you become pregnant unwillingly, this can dramatically change how your future looks like, so think about this before engaging in unsafe sex and make sure that you think about what you want even if your partner wants to have penetrating sex without a condom – if you do not want to, no one can force you to! There is plenty of sex you can have without penetration, that is safe and still gives you intimacy and fun.

As a leader, make sure you are up to date with any changes in opening hours of your local health clinic or centre, so that you know where you can refer your players for sexual and reproductive health services if needed.

And remember that you are already making a big difference just by boosting your players' self-esteem. Research shows that young people with high self-esteem and who feel better psychologically and emotionally are more likely to have safer sex. So, stay connected to your players and keep on strengthening their self-esteem!

Corona/Covid-19 Information & Prevention
The virus that causes Covid-19 is new, and we don't know much about it. What we do know is that:
● Covid-19 is a new virus so no human beings have ever encountered this virus before this outbreak, which means that our bodies are not at all prepared and has to learn from scratch how to fight it. This leaves us more vulnerable to the virus.
● Covid-19 is difficult to diagnose without a test because the disease affects people differently. The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have body aches and pains, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are very similar to a common cold. But it can also be symptom free - that means that you can carry the virus and infect others without showing any symptoms or knowing that you are infected.
● You typically present with symptoms within 5 days of infection (if you get symptoms at all), but you are infectious before you show symptoms yourself. This is why it is so important to be careful and adopt safety precautions irrespective of if you have symptoms or not!
● Everyone can be infected, but persons with preconditions and with weaker immune systems, such as diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, are at greater risk of getting severe symptoms, and die from Covid-19.
● Age is an important factor, and older people are at higher risk of dying from the disease. That doesn't mean that young people cannot get very ill, but they are more likely to recover.
● If you are or have been a smoker, you are at increased risk of getting very sick if you are exposed to the corona virus. That gives you a very good reason to quit smoking now!
● There is no treatment and no vaccine yet, but researchers are working on it and hopefully this will be accessible soon.

Transmission, diagnosis and symptoms
● The virus that causes Covid-19 is primarily spread through aerosols from someone that is infected by the virus through for example speaking, coughing, eating with your hands, sneezing, blowing their nose etc., which causes droplets of virus to enter the body by breathing in the virus.
● Your hands are the biggest risk of transmission. They are often exposed through touching surfaces that have droplets with virus on them, or for example standing close to other people that might be sneezing or coughing.
● The virus can survive on different surfaces for different amounts of time. For example, on paper the virus survives for approximately 24 hours, on plastic and metal even longer. If you receive money from someone that has virus on it, you will get the virus on your hands and when you rub your eye or eat your lunch you might get the virus into your body.
● Even if your hands look clean, they might be contaminated with virus, so avoid touching your face, or the faces of others, and wash your hands every time before eating and drinking, touching your face, and every time after you have been in close contact with or surrounded by people.
● When you go out, stay at a 2-meter (6 feet) distance from other people, and try to limit your social contact as much as possible. Avoid crowded areas and spending time with people in groups - preferably limit your social physical contact to those you share your house with.
● Try to stay away from hospitals and clinics to the extent possible, but if you need health care you should seek care as usual.

Handwashing - the simplest way to avoid spread of the virus
● Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water every time.
● Make sure you clean all areas of your hands with soap, including creases in the palms of your hands, and on the back of your hands, in between your fingers, around the nails and underneath your nails. Clean all the way up to your wrists. Rinse with water and dry your hands. To do this you need about 20 seconds - the same amount of time it takes to sing happy birthday twice.
● If you don't have access to water, soap or sink you can use hand sanitizer with alcohol, alcogel or more than 60% alcohol to clean your hands and wrists. If you are on the move, and you cannot get hold of hand sanitizers, you can always mix >60% alcohol with aloe vera to create your own alcogel.

Be considerate of those around you
● The best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to limit social contacts. Use this time to stay at home with your loved ones, avoid crowds and gatherings of more than 10 people to the extent possible. Avoid public transportation and if you can work from home, consider doing so.
● Avoid visiting your older family members or persons with preconditions if you are in contact with other people, try to limit their exposure to social contacts directly and indirectly to the extent possible.
● If we can slow down the spread of the virus, we will avoid overload of our health systems, more people will be able to get the care they need, more people will be saved, and hopefully we will find a treatment and/or a vaccine very soon.

Stay strong & stay safe!
If you need support, reach out to our WhatsApp Covid-19 hotline: