IT’S four months since football was placed under lock and key but Andy Gould has never been busier.

As the Scottish FA’s head of football development, he’s found himself at the heart of an ever-changing landscape, juggling a worldwide pandemic and the desperation of more than 700,000 players to get back on the pitch.

Throw in meetings with Scottish Government officials, public health advisors – Jason Leitch among them – and other sport leaders, it’s clear his diary has never been fuller.

He’s not long left a meeting when he appears on the screen, laughing and joking before we get down to business. There’s good reason for him to be so happy as for the first time in months pictures appeared on social media of players finally back to doing what they love.

“This is a huge step for us and for young people to be back on the pitch, kicking a ball and experiencing all the joy of that,” he says. “It’s great for us to see.

“At times like these you realise football is so important to people. We never take it for granted but when 700,000 can’t play the game they love – and 99 per cent play it just because they love it – it’s hard.

Glasgow Times: Gould frequently spends his time in meetings with the likes of Jason Leitch Gould frequently spends his time in meetings with the likes of Jason Leitch

“It’s hard not seeing people on a pitch and it’s hard not giving people that opportunity. Now, it’s about getting people on the pitch and about how we can support clubs. There are also the challenges we will all be facing, including the facilities estate.

“It’s a very difficult situation to deal with and I would just reiterate for people to be patient. We are already seeing wonderful pictures of our young people back on pitches.”

Behind the joyful pictures, debate has raged in recent weeks between those coaches who want nothing more to than see their players having fun again and others who can’t wait to get back to business.

Gould is clear he very much lies in the former camp, insisting children are given the chance to just meet up with friends instead of being thrown into pre-season drills for a campaign with no start date.

“The key thing is the fun and enjoyment aspect is absolute uppermost,” he says. “You have young people who have been enclosed for a number of weeks with such limited opportunity to see anyone else.

“We have a tagline ‘let them play’ and I think that’s the first thing coaches can do. Facilitate that. Don’t over coach or provide too much in the way of drills.”

One worry remains for parents, players, and coaches; what will happen if there is a second wave and life is put on hold again? Gould is confident.

“It has been made clear there is the chance it could reverse,” he says. “I actually think we would be better planned and prepared because we have gone through this.”

With that, we say our goodbyes, and he disappears from my screen, just in time for his next meeting.