Published: 06:00, 16 November 2020
| Updated: 07:14, 16 November 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way we work, study, relax, exercise, socialise, travel, shop... the list goes on.
But it has also stopped people taking part in their favourite sports across Kent, which for some have proved to be an escape from the dim-lit reality of the past few months.
On November 1, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England would be going into a second lockdown until December 2.
With the restrictions back in force many members of local clubs, leagues, groups and organisations from across the county found themselves hanging up their boots and packing away their equipment once again.
A key talking point throughout this pandemic is the impact that staying inside has had on mental health.
With lockdown in full-force, and questions being raised about it possibly being extended, not having sport as an escape from the day-to-day could prove detrimental for some.
According to the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, physical activity can be used for treating depression and there is evidence to suggest adults who take part in a form of physical activity each day could see a reduction of 20-30% in feelings of anxiety and depression.
Not only does sport and activity allow people to socialise, stay healthy, stay engaged and take part in friendly competition, it also provides jobs and financial security for those involved with running the organisations.
One sport in particular that hasn't been able to return to normal playing conditions since it all began, even after social-distancing restrictions were eased, is rugby.
Clubs across Kent have been trying to find ways to keep players engaged during these confusing and ever-changing times.
Old Gravesendians Rugby Club, based in Bronte View, Gravesend, have been able to maintain consistent numbers for their Tuesday and Thursday training sessions.
But they are now worried another lockdown could have a negative impact on their "Rugby family".
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on October 31 that all competitive adult leagues would be cancelled for the 2020/21 season.
Old Gravesendians chairman Mike Hodge said: "Moving towards a second lockdown has hurt us, and at this stage, with no competitive season, we don't know what's coming next.
"As much as we rely on the good grace and social side of it, rugby is the actual bit that holds it all together and is where we make our revenue.
"We've been lucky enough to have 30-plus players regularly training, and roughly 100 that have come at any one point, but when we don't have anything to play for, it's tough.
"Despite this we are doing multiple things to keep our members engaged with the club."
The club's sponsors, which include the Jolly Drayman Pub and Bustles and Breeches in Wellington Street, help to fund kit costs, the running of the club and equipment overheads.
Mike added: "Any sponsorship we have is reliant on us actually being a rugby club and, of course, without that our sponsorship revenue has taken a hit because they haven't got the money to give to us when there's no rugby happening.
"They are struggling probably more than we are, so they can't afford to fund us when there's no rugby activity.
"On rugby days, we can promote them through sponsorship boards, programmes, sponsored lunches, but we haven't got any of that so we can't do it.
"There is a huge knock-on effect.
"We're quite fortunate we're not in financial jeopardy yet, but if it continues for much longer, we need to start looking at where we can save costs across the board.
"We also launched the youth section four years ago and we've seen a consistent increase in numbers, around 100 kids are signed up, which is great to see.
"It's not just the adult first team that’s affected but also young players who want to get into the sport not being able to play."
The professional level of the sport has returned to playing full games but for amateur teams there are still many questions left unanswered as to when players can get back to the game they love.
The Medway Netball League has also faced difficulties in trying to shed some light on this year's (potential) season.
Prior to the second lockdown it managed to host two weeks of fixtures for its adult league and one for its junior competition.
It's a sport that boasts a family-friendly atmosphere available to all ages, shapes and abilities, which is still the biggest sport played by women in the country.
Committee member, Sally Conquest, said: "The impact of lockdown on this sport has been significant.
"Medway Netball League has a thriving senior and junior league, with over 700 active members, and since March 23 play has been badly disrupted.
"However, the league has put in place robust measures in line with public health guidance and we are in a position to restart play as soon as restrictions are lifted.
"We play 90% of our fixtures outdoors and know that playing brings many benefits - not just related to physical health but also team play, meeting friends and team mates, albeit it in a socially distanced way, is great for our mental wellbeing.
"We have not benefited as a league from any emergency Covid-related funding, despite our increased outgoings to respond to the pandemic to make the game as safe as possible.
"We are keeping costs as low as we can for players.
"After all, our aim is to make sure that our players do have the opportunity to play when they can.
"Fingers crossed that will be soon."
Contact sports were always going to face an uphill battle to restart following the outbreak of the virus, as it is nigh-on possible to take part in them without coming into close contact with another person.
Martial arts is another sector which has been severely restricted with the type of training it can provide, as the majority of self-defence techniques are designed to simulate a face-to-face confrontation with an aggressor.
Ju-Jitsu is a self-defence discipline based on ancient Japanese techniques with a focus on grappling, blocking and countering a potential antagoniser.
North Kent Ju-Jitsu Kai (NKJJK) run classes for all ages – but haven't been able to train in any capacity for the past nine months.
The club, run by black-belt husband and wife duo Terry and Ann Kitchener, are financed solely by the class fees it gets from its 67 members.
With no classes to teach, the club now faces a fight to get back to training after they had to shut for the first time in 32 years back in March.
Terry said: "Our club has been impacted greatly by the pandemic.
"We are unable to open due to Ju-Jitsu being a very close contact sport, as you have to throw opponents who attack, amongst a catalogue of other close-quarters techniques.
"The hall that we train in is unable to open and it would be impossible to run fully-functioning classes anyway.
"This has a knock-on effect on hall owners, martial arts shops and many other organisations we deal with.
"This is the first time in 32 years we have had to shut the club."
"With regards to mental health, Ju-jitsu definitely helps people with their mental awareness, self confidence, self-esteem and lowers stress levels, whilst also learning how to defend yourself.
"We were planning on starting a socially distant fitness class for all our students but unfortunately our hall isn't able to open and now the second lockdown has halted this even more so.
"There is also the option of Zoom classes but this is difficult because most of our training is done on mats with a partner so there is a lot of health and safety issues.
"Hopefully we will be able to open soon but our sport will not be back to normal for a long time which is very sad."
Last month, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove announced tennis and golf clubs could "probably" stay open during the second lockdown.
This proved to be false hope for members of Gravesham Tennis Club – when he had to issue an apology the following day, claiming he had been ill-informed and golf and tennis clubs would indeed have to shut.
Committee member Rob Powell said: "The most immediate impact was that we had to close the club earlier in the year and sadly have had to close again now for the second lockdown.
"Being a sport where social distancing is built in, we were pleased to be one of the first sports clubs in the borough to reopen as restrictions started to lift the first time around.
"We look forward to reopening again just as soon this lockdown ends.
"The adverse effect has mainly been on our members who love playing tennis regularly and are having to find other ways to stay active.
"The first lockdown coincided with our membership renewals and the uncertainty did cause some people not to renew initially.
"But we are pleased to have bounced back strongly since then with a number of initiatives to reach new members and we now have the best membership numbers on record.
"The first lockdown was a worrying time for our club, like any sports club.
"Understandably, not all members were renewing and we had no idea how long it may go on for.
"But since then, membership numbers have rebounded very well as people look to get involved in a sport which has the natural advantage of social distancing.
"Everyone is looking forward to getting back on court just as soon as we are able to.
"In these difficult times, sport - and we would say tennis in particular - is so important for the well-documented benefits it brings to an individual's physical and mental wellbeing.
"Tennis can be safely enjoyed across all age groups and we can't wait to get back to the sport we love."
So, while we all face an uncertain few months filled with a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, the sports we love and cherish are having their foundations, built over years of hard work and commitment, slowly damaged beneath them.
But this is just one of the aspects of 'normal' life we will have to live with for the foreseeable future until we get the virus under control.
However, this must not take away from the importance of mental health and the role that sport, physical exercise and community has in helping people get through difficult times.