Following The Pandemic Year, Dallas Cup Returns in 2021 Featuring Only Domestic Clubs
The return of the annual Dallas Cup begins this weekend, with the boys teams starting the competition on Sunday. Dallas Cup Executive Director Andy Swift speaks with Diane Scavuzzo on the event returning while the Coronavirus pandemic still exists.
The Dallas Cup kicks off soon — to the delight of players, coaches and parents from all corners of the USA. Providing the immensely valuable chance to compete at a high level in front of college coaches and to vie for the prestigious “Boot and Ball” championship trophies, 230 boys teams and for the first time in years, U16-U19 girls teams hit the fields soon.
- The Dallas Cup XLII will be played from Saturday, March 27 through Sunday, April 4.
- The Dallas Cup Girls Invitational will be played March 27 through April 1.
Following the Dallas Cup cancellation in 2020 for the first time in its four-decade history, Dallas Cup XLII which usually attracts 100,000 visitors and teams from all around the world, will be different.
“We have no international teams competing in the Dallas Cup this year,” said Andy Swift, Executive Director of the Dallas based tournament which was established in 1980. Historically, the Dallas Cup has 40% international teams, 40% domestic teams, and 20% Dallas-area teams.
“A year ago, when we announced the cancelation of the 2020 Dallas Cup, and everything was shutting down, most of us were thinking by next year all should be fine,” said Swift. “Now it is next year, and we are holding the tournament, but it is not a normal Dallas Cup.”
“The impact of the COVID-19 has been a detriment to those who play the game.”Andy Swift, Executive Director – Dallas Cup
Well known for its international cultural exchange, this year’s Dallas Cup is restricted to teams from clubs in the USA. On the level of competition at this year’s Dallas Cup, Swift agrees it will be interesting to see how the various US teams perform. “There have been youth soccer teams that have been playing for months, and others that have been very restricted, so this will probably have an impact,” said Swift.
“Athletes are like artist and musician — develpoment needs repetition, competition and opportunities to showcase talent. For some players, the start of the Coronavirus pandemic came just when they were supposed to play their last youth soccer tournament. For these players, this opportunity tournament was a one-time opportunity,” said Swift. “We have players from Europe who hope to be scouted by American collegiate coaches, and these players aged out and never had the chance.”
Citing that it was challenging preparing for a tournament that might or might not happen due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, Swift said, “There will be no opening ceremony, no parties — or anything held indoors, or that would attract a crowd,” said Swift.
“We are a national event, and we are going to keep our strict protocols in place,” said Swift. “Mandatory mask wearing and social distancing will be required and kick off times will be staggered so there is less of a bottleneck with teams entering and leaving the fields.” The tournament will also have sanitizing stations throughout the fields.
“We know that parents want to comply because it only hurts their kids if they do not adhere to the safety guidelines.”Andy Swift, Executive Director – Dallas Cup
The Opening Day parade of teams, Dallas Cup friendlies, team visits to hospitals, schools and other community events, as well as the HomeStay program have also been canceled for this year. Additionally, spectators will be required to stand a minimum of 10′ back from the sideline.
Attendance will be restricted and participating teams only received a limited number of passes — each player can have two people attend the games. “Other than those passes for players, and the tournament staff, and registered college coaches, the tournament will be closed to the public.
Every morning, each of the 200 teams competing will perform a heath check and report on a health safety app. Any player or coach with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to enter the venue. A negative COVID test will be required to be re-instated to the tournament.
As all of the USA returns to play, it is great that the Dallas Cup has remained sustainable and vibrant.
On the organization side, the Coronavirus has led to the permanent shuttering of leagues and tournaments across the country and, as Swift said, “The youth soccer industry is just one part of the what has been affected as this global pandemic.”
When asked what we may have learned from the pandemic, Swift was quick to respond. “The one thing we have learned through this experience is that we don’t know … a lot of us who thought we knew everything, now realize we knew nothing — the lesson is that you need to plan but you must be ready to pivot.”