The return of grassroots sport is so important for kids- Jamie Redknapp

The lockdown ban on children playing outdoor grassroots sport has finally eased and no-one could be more pleased than former England and Liverpool footballer Jamie Redknapp, who’s desperate for his two sporty sons to get back to playing the games they love.

Undated Handout Photo of Jamie Redknapp with his older son Charley and younger son Beau. See PA Feature FAMILY Redknapp. Picture credit should read: Jamie Redknapp/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FAMILY Redknapp.

Not only will Redknapp’s younger son Beau, aged 12, be able to play for Chelsea FC Academy again, and elder son Charley, 16, play rugby for his college and possibly his county, Surrey, again, but even their dad is getting in on the act, coaching young children at Fun Football Sessions.

“For grassroots sport to be starting again is so important for everybody,” says Redknapp, 47.

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“It’s been such a tough time for kids, not being able to get exercise, not being able to get those endorphins and do all the things teenagers and young kids should be doing. Just getting kids out and about and exercising is so important because they’ve been stuck indoors.

“There’s been times when you can see they’re climbing the walls and they want to be out doing stuff with their mates, but they haven’t been able to. So this isn’t just good from a sports point of view, it’s also good for their health and making sure they’re out and getting the exercise they need.”

Redknapp joined former England women’s footballer Alex Scott on the day lockdown restrictions eased to help coach a group of children, aged five to 10, taking part in a McDonald’s Fun Football Session. The free programme, which is in partnership with the four UK Football Associations, was postponed when lockdown began but is now resuming at more than 600 locations across the UK, under the guidance of FA-accredited coaches.

“It’s what I love, being out on the grass playing football with the kids,” says Redknapp. “When my 12-year-old goes training, and when my 16-year-old plays rugby, I can’t wait to be out there with them and watching them. As parents, we look forward to it. I enjoy watching my sons play football and rugby as much as a Premier League game – it brings you this great buzz of pride, you just want them to do so well.

“And I think I’m speaking for a lot of parents when I say this, we’ve missed that, not just from the kids’ point of view but from ours. It’s going to be good fun!”

And it’ll be way more fun than home schooling, which Redknapp didn’t enjoy at all – so much so that he jokes about the day kids returned to school: “They were meant to be in at 8 o’clock – I got them there at 5!

“I found home schooling really tough, but I think I speak for every parent that certainly I’ve spoken to about it. I’ve questioned myself as a parent more than ever because you have to do the right things from an educational point of view.

"I didn’t like school myself, let alone having to home school someone! So it’s been tough, but my kids have got on with it and the schools they go to have done a really good job.

“I’ve not enjoyed home schooling, put it that way!”