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Needham Market defender Jake Dye discusses life in lockdown




Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, thousands of football players across the county have been left in a state of limbo, writes Callum Crabtree.

In a typical week of intense training and playing up to three 90-minutes matches, the absence of routine and activity can leave some without a sense of purpose.

However, the pandemic has also seen a unique feeling of unity.

Football - Needham Vs Lowestoft Town ..Needhams Jake Dye on the ball battling with lowestoft town defender ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34647854)
Football - Needham Vs Lowestoft Town ..Needhams Jake Dye on the ball battling with lowestoft town defender ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34647854)

‘Being together’ has taken on a whole new virtual meaning with group chats, Zoom calls and quizzes taking centre stage as the hub of interaction in this new era of social distancing.

And Needham Market right-back Jake Dye has spoken of his experience in keeping going as footballer throughout these uncertain times.

“We have a close bunch of players and management so the spirits have been very high,” said the youngster.

Football - Suffolk Premier Cup - Haverhill Rovers 1-4 Needham Market. Pictured - Jake Dye. Picture - Paul Tebbutt. (34647937)
Football - Suffolk Premier Cup - Haverhill Rovers 1-4 Needham Market. Pictured - Jake Dye. Picture - Paul Tebbutt. (34647937)

“We have played a lot of games throughout the group chat to keep the togetherness ready for next season.”

An alarming statistic which arose from a recent FIFPro study suggested there has been a 22 per cent and 13 per cent increase in depression symptoms for female and male players respectively during the lockdown.

Dye is confident that if anyone within the Needham dressing room was to be struggling with mental health problems, the team would rally around them with help.

“Everyone seems to be getting involved in the banter so I haven’t noticed any concerns, but you never know,” he said.

Football: Southern League ..Needham Vs Biggleswade Town..Needhams Jake Dye takes on Biggleswade player ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34647960)
Football: Southern League ..Needham Vs Biggleswade Town..Needhams Jake Dye takes on Biggleswade player ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34647960)

“Our group is very supportive and approachable so I’d hope anyone could reach out if they need help.”

Although the situation is far from ideal, the 21-year-old say his perspective has kept him in-check.

“It is quite frustrating, not because of the money, more the fact of wanting to be back in the normal world, enjoying what you do,” he said.

“Thankfully the furlough scheme allows us some income and helps us get by.

MBFP-11-10-2016-039 Needham Market v Lowestoft No 2 Jake Dye defends corner. (34689223)
MBFP-11-10-2016-039 Needham Market v Lowestoft No 2 Jake Dye defends corner. (34689223)

“I think it would be selfish of me or anyone to moan about the money when there are key workers out there, working their socks off to save lives and help people during this struggle.”

Toilet roll challenges, album cover challenges and even TikTok dances have dominated how people have decided to cure their boredom in lockdown, but Dye has kept his routine nice and simple.

“Thankfully Sky Sports have been showing some retro games. I’ve even had to start a FIFA career mode to get my football fix,” he continued.

“I’ve also done a workout every day, whether it’s building muscle or a recovery session. I’ve gone out for a lot of runs as well.

Jake Dye (Needham Market) clears under pressure from Ollie Hughes (Bury Town). (34689210)
Jake Dye (Needham Market) clears under pressure from Ollie Hughes (Bury Town). (34689210)

“I’m trying to get myself as physically fit as possible ready for pre-season.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit to kick a ball, so that’s first on my list when I’m out of lockdown.

“It gives me a little time to improve on my technical game, ready for getting back into training.”

Dye has also expressed his gratitude towards the club in helping him, and his fellow team-mates, since the ordeal started.

Football: FA Cup ..Needham Market Vs Dereham Town..Needhams Jake Dye whips in the ball ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34689203)
Football: FA Cup ..Needham Market Vs Dereham Town..Needhams Jake Dye whips in the ball ..Photographer Ben Pooley. (34689203)

“It’s been very hard without football, especially with all this uncertainty on what’s happening going forward, but it’s a great reminder to appreciate the game and to enjoy it and give your all when playing,” he said.

“The club has helped so much, I wasn’t expecting any money due to the loss of income on the gate, and 4G bookings, but they made sure we are supported and made it known that there’s a lot of people around the club willing to help if any of us need it. It’s a proper family club.”

When the lockdown commenced and the season was subsequently cancelled, Needham were sitting 13th in the league, just five points off the play-offs.

Dye, who reached the milestone of 200 senior appearances for the Step 3 club earlier in the 2019/20 campaign, gave plaudits to his achievement but insists he still has improvements to make.

“It was great to reach the milestone, but I still know there’s a lot I need to do to improve and to be more consistent,” he said.

“It was certainly frustrating having the season cancelled because as a team we had hit great form, taking each game one at a time and closing in on a potential play-off place. It makes you feel like it never happened, but strives you to do better next season.”


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