Balls to Covid

Three of the city’s leading professional sports teams have united to lend their voices to the NHS and say, “Balls to Covid!”

Over the last year, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust has created a new rehabilitation service set up to help those recovering from trauma and illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strict infection control changes, as well as restrictions on visiting loved ones, meant rehabilitation teams needed to come up with a new way of making rehabilitation fun for patients. As a result, the COVID-19 Respiratory, Rehabilitation and Discharge Team created the #BallsToCovid Challenge.

Using beach balls and music, the challenge is designed to promote activity, share moments of joy and make people laugh. Olivia Roberts and Helen White from the physiotherapy team created a series of videos to introduce the challenge with the hope that others will join in and share their #BallsToCovid moves with the rest of Plymouth. Grab a ball, put on some music and get moving!

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to show off their ball skills and support the NHS, Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Plymouth Albion Rugby Club and Plymouth Raiders Basketball team joined forces to take on the #BallsToCovid challenge with support from Barclays Plymouth branch.

Under the #PlymouthClubsTogether banner each team hosted and set a challenge for the other clubs to try – the Crossbar, 3 pointer and Conversion challenges – all of which have been filmed and will be edited and released by PL1 Events as a series on: BallsToCovid - YouTube

Siobhan Robbie-James, Supporter Relations Manager and Inclusion lead at Plymouth Argyle said: “Over the course of challenges, the players have gained a new respect for each other’s sport and were able to enjoy the simple pleasure of playing games and forming new friendships.

“For us it’s more than simply taking part in a challenge. It is about connecting with the community and socialising, providing a positive attitude that leads to better physical and mental health and demonstrating how sport can bring everyone together no matter your ability or team preference.”

Jude Fewings, Therapy Lead for the Covid-19 Respiratory, Rehab and Discharge Team said: "University Hospitals Plymouth is really excited that all three clubs have taken up the #BallsToCovid Challenge and are sharing it with their fans and the people of Plymouth.

"We know how important it is for everyone to be active, but it's especially important for those recovering from accidents or illness. Rehabilitation in hospitals helps patients get better quicker and feel happier.

"Our rehabilitation team have been working tirelessly over the last year to make rehabilitation fun under difficult circumstances, and we hope that the #BallsToCovid Challenge will put a smile on people's faces and encourage everyone to get moving and enjoy themselves."

Praising how this is the first time that Plymouth’s major sporting teams have collaborated to deliver a wider benefit to the community, Plymouth Albion Commercial Manager Chris Bentley said: “We’re extremely proud to be part of this collaboration. This initiative is just the start of our journey as a collective and together, we’ll provide an unparalleled level of support to a larger number of people as our very own sporting resurgam plan.”

After working out a fair aggregate of scores across all three challenges, Raiders were crowned the overall winners with 13 points with Argyle and Albion just missing out with 12 points each.

“#BallstoCovid is a fun way of encouraging people to be active and to interact as best they can during these difficult times. The collaboration between the cities 3 professional sports club has been really beneficial and will hopefully lead to further projects in the future through community involvement,” explained Phil Hughes, General Manager of Plymouth Raiders Basketball Club.

He continued to say: “The players have formed friendships over the past few weeks and have gained a deeper respect for the skills and talents that each other possess to put them at the top of their respective sports. The message here is quite simple, get out there and give it a go, regardless of age or ability. Sport can be an incredible tool for providing unity in tough times and whilst the physical benefits of sport and fitness are often discussed, the mental impact of exercise and in particular socialisation between players can often be forgotten."

Players from the clubs and the NHS staff want to see people across Devon and Cornwall join in and show their support by saying #BallsToCovid and sharing their own videos, perhaps seeing if you can beat the pros by taking up the club’s challenges. If so, be sure to film your attempts, tag the sports clubs and use these hashtags: