FOOTBALL returned at an amateur level on Monday night as lockdown was eased across England.

At a Powerleague in Newham, east London local team Rising Ballers took to the pitch at one minute past midnight.

Lucozade Sport put the event on, which was a celebration of the return of amateur sport across the country for the first time in nearly five months.

Tom Bell, head of Lucozade Sport, said: “We know the nation has missed team sport as much as we have, so we wanted to celebrate the occasion by hosting one of the first amateur football games back and streaming it live from midnight to allow the rest of the UK to view the action.

"Football, netball, basketball, tennis and more return from Monday and we couldn’t be more excited. Following a long break, we’re urging people to take it easy – warm up well and stay hydrated!”

And Eni Shabani, founder of Rising Ballers, added: "To be involved in the first game back with a brand like Lucozade Sport after months of not being able to play is amazing.

"We’ve missed team sports and amateur football as much as everyone and we’re desperate to get back on the pitch.

"We’ve picked up some new skills in our gardens and living rooms and we loved being able to showcase them to everyone watching."

Research conducted by OnePoll found that 41 per cent of people are planning to take up a new sport now lockdown has been eased.

And they also report that one in four people have missed being part of a team sport.

Fans are set to return to stadiums for professional sports events from May.

It was confirmed on Monday that one of the FA Cup semi-finals – which are being staged on April 17 and 18 – will be a pilot event consisting of 4,000 local residents.

And the Government are then planning for 20,000 spectators to be in attendance for the FA Cup final on May 17.

A number of huge sporting events in the UK are hoping to hold fans this summer, including Wimbledon and Euro 2020.

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