Donawa relieved to continue playing amid new lockdown
Justin Donawa spoke of his relief that the Football Association’s suspension of non-elite football has not affected the National Leagues as he aims to establish himself at new club Solihull Moors.
Having joined Vanarama National League-outfit Solihull from lower-league Darlington and made his debut as a substitute days later in the 3-1 defeat to Maidenhead United at the end of the last month, concerns were raised of a complete suspension of non-elite football just as there had been in March, because of rising Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom.
However, unlike that initial lockdown, the Vanarama National League, National League North and National League South, featuring several Bermudians, were not included as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s newly implemented four-week national lockdown which started last Thursday and runs until December 2.
“Obviously we are fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to keep playing through lockdown,” said Donawa. “The ruling has affected clubs below the National Leagues which is very unfortunate for a lot of clubs who will be desperate to continue.
“From a personal point of view I’m relieved we can keep playing, especially having just arrived at the club. I was worried not playing could hinder my chances of settling in quickly, but the club have made it easy, it’s been a good transition.
“I’m getting to know the rest of the squad and the aim is to get some minutes, take any opportunity I’m given and try and establish myself in the squad.”
Despite revealing to initial concerns from some about the prospect of continuing to play throughout the new lockdown amid rising cases, the Bermuda forward feels at ease because of strict protocols already being in place.
“I think there were a few concerns initially because cases were rising in the UK and some clubs were reporting cases,” Donawa added. “Some may be nervous, but I see it as we’re fortunate to be able to keep playing.
“Not too much has changed for us really because the protocols were in place already. We all have to wear masks at the grounds and our temperatures are checked regularly, the protocols were pretty extensive from before lockdown.”
Reflecting on his initial ambitions at his new club, the 24-year-old is eager to make more of an impression on the field as he aims to repay the faith from the club who pursued him on a number of occasions before finally securing his signature last month.
“Making my debut felt great,” he said. “It was a tough result and I hate losing, but I felt fortunate to be able to come on and make my debut for the club.
“Initially I just want to try and establish myself at the club and get as many minutes as possible whenever I’m called upon. I’d obviously like to add goals and assists for the club and while I’ve not set any real targets, I want to make a telling contribution.
“The club were chasing me for a while and tried to sign me on two occasions before coming back for me again for a third time and it finally happened.
“That gives me a lot of confidence because it tells me that the club directors and manager James Shan really wanted me at the club. I’m obviously here for a reason and that’s a huge boost to know they have that faith in me.
“It’s obviously a level up from where I was with Darlington and it’s a very good level. It’s great that I was given this chance after only a short time playing in the UK and it’s another move in the right direction in my football journey.”