A POWYS football manager has bemoaned the continued Welsh football ban on using changing rooms and shower facilities after his players took a dip in the Irish Sea to cool down following a fixture on the west Wales coast last weekend.

Builth Wells footballers took advantage of their seaside surroundings in Aberaeron last Saturday, July 24, cooling down after their 3-1 JD Welsh Cup second qualifying round defeat to their hosts by frolicking in the sea at Ceredigion Bay.

However, despite his players improvising, the club’s joint manager, Jason Samuel, claims the sight of players changing by the sides of pitches or in car parks or public areas is “degrading” and could attract concerns over exposure and indecent behaviour. Bulls’ players were forced to change for the game in front of children and hoards of visitors spending a sunny weekend visiting the coastal town.

“The rule of not being allowed in changing rooms to use showers really is a joke,” said Samuel, who is joint manager of the Bulls, alongside Stuart Turpin.

Earlier this month, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) relaxed previous requirements that had been made a mandatory part of hosting fixtures at league, cup and friendly games throughout Wales. This included removing the need for temperature testing, a spectator code of conduct, legal social distancing, maximum capacities and the mandatory wearing of face masks from the ‘Return to Spectator Regulations’.

However, the FAW says the use of changing rooms and shower facilities remains out of bounds. According to rule four of the FAW’s most updated matchday protocols: “No changing rooms should be used – players should arrive in training or playing kit. Exemptions may be made where safety and safeguarding measures require their use.”

But Samuel has described the rule as a “shambles”. “We were delayed by traffic to Saturday’s game which led to our players being forced to change in front of people on the side of the pitch,” said Samuel.

“Now, beyond being inconvenient, it’s also degrading for boys to change and be half naked in front of people, including children, which has worrying implications concerning exposure and indecent behaviour.

“Aberaeron is a popular seaside town which was busy on the weekend due to the fine sunny weather, so on top of the spectators at the game you had the added presence of passers-by and walkers and beach-goers possibly catching sight of 15 half-naked lads being forced to change for a game of football in broad daylight.”

Builth’s 3-1 defeat was captured on Welsh language provider S4C’s popular Sgorio programme, but cameras did not follow the Builth players into the sea after the game. Samuel said Aberaeron officials were apologetic for the situation, but like every other club in Wales, they are just adhering to the FAW’s rules.

“In addition, the unhygienic aspect of not showering after a game of football only enhances the risk of Covid-19 spreading in my opinion,” added Samuel.

“We’re told to use hand sanitisers, masks and use track and trade facilities at training and games, as well as adhere to social distancing, so I don’t understand at all how being filthy and sweaty from a 90-minute game of football, then getting back on a packed bus or a convoy of cars with your teammates, is deemed more appropriate.

“It was an odd sight to behold on Saturday when, devoid of being able to use any showers, our lads just jumped in the sea to cool down and clean themselves.

“It really is a shambles and the longer it goes on I can only see it ushering in more problems for players, managers and clubs.”