We All Want Youth Soccer Players Back On The Fields Safely
Update on Coronavirus COVID-19’s impact on youth soccer with a spotlight on San Diego, California. San Diego’s local government is ahead of other counties in aggressively planning to restart the economy and services. The idea is that once a plan is approved in San Diego County, Cal South can recommend it be adopted for other counties.
San Diego Supervisor Kristin Gaspar‘s Accelerated Plan GAME ON SAN DIEGO, an admirable effort to get the tens of thousands of youth soccer players back playing youth soccer in Cal South’s southern most county, has yet to be approved by California’s Governor Newsom.
In response to the Governor’s latest updates today on California’s response to COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic, and the 47 Counties receiving approval for parts of the “Phase 2.5” reopening — with no mention of allowing youth sports to return to play — Cal South’s new president Bob Turner and San Diego’s youth soccer clubs have a plan.
While everyone wants to see kids outdoors, exercising with their teams and enjoying a return to the days of play that were once taken for granted, the youth soccer community overwhelmingly realizes the importance of a balanced plan to minimize the risk of spreading the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and possibly triggering a second wave.
According to Turner, we can do a better job.
And, this is not a one-person job. Turner knows we all have to work together as a community, and the Return To Play plan for youth soccer in San Diego has had the benefit of culling together the best minds in San Diego youth soccer. Turner has worked alongside several of the area’s most dedicated youth soccer clubs as well as the County of San Diego and their medical experts.
“With hundreds of thousands of kids playing youth sports in San Diego County, it is a shame they are not being represented better,” said Turner earlier today. “Our training protocols would far exceed the requirements of all other business’s already approved to open. I do not know why we are an afterthought of the Governor and his office.”
“We need to ensure the physical and mental well-being of San Diego’s youth soccer players.”Bob Turner, President Cal South Soccer
“This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but it has been especially hard on our youth,” said Turner referring to a problem being recognized at all levels of child psychology and development with elevated awareness.
The recent New York Times article, In a World ‘So Upside Down,’ the Virus Is Taking a Toll on Young People’s Mental Health points out the problems of kids who are used to being active sheltering in place for long periods of time. A report published in April from the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology looked at the perils of high performing athletes who are usually immersed in working on high-performance goals. The bottom line, being isolated at home, away from physical activity and friends is hard for kids. “The days are all the same. There is nothing to look forward to and I miss practicing with my team. Exercising on my own was ok at first but now it is so hard to get motivated….” Anonymous.
“We all have to work together to protect our kids from the repercussions of this pandemic,” said Turner who believes we can lower the rising statistics on depression by letting kids attend practice again with strict safety protocols.
“It is time we really think about the kids and their wellbeing.”Bob Turner, President Cal South Soccer
Turner, who believes it is important that Cal South follow US Youth Soccer Return to Activity Notice, knows clear guidelines are requited to get youth soccer players back on the soccer fields in Southern California. In addition to following the state and local mandates, and the common-sense rules pertaining to self-quarantining and staying home if you feel ill or have any symptoms, Turner acknowledges the risk of silent spreaders infecting others. “Until a vaccine is available, we have to be smart and maintain strict safety protocols for Return To Play,” said Turner.
“While I hope San Diego County’s Accelerated Plan is approved soon, I do not believe player-to-player contact should be in our initial Return To Play Phase 1.”Bob Turner, President Cal South
Recommended Outlines for Youth Soccer Return To Play Protocols — Phase 1
- Fever Detection: All coaching staff must have their temperature taken.
- We have strongly recommended that Youth Soccer Clubs take the player’s temperature as well to add another layer of protection and security.
- Practices will run throughout the day with shorter time slots and staggered start times allowing a group of youth players to leave the field prior to when the next group starts training.
- This is to minimize risks and better control contact.
- Parents not allowed on the field and must stay in the car or at least 6 feet apart in the designated area or parking lot.
- Youth soccer training will take place only within a small group setting with a maximum of 12 players with 10 feet of distancing between players.
- The groups of players will remain consistent throughout the duration of Phase 1.
- Absolutely NO sharing of water or equipment.
- We strongly recommend players should supply all their equipment including bibs and soccer balls.
- Parents are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing after each use.
- If cones or any other equipment is used, sanitizing must be done after each player group session
- Sanitizing stations must be available for all participants.
The above protocols of course include the wearing of masks by all coaches and administrators.
The training of staff and volunteers on the proper implementation of the safety protocols must be completed prior to players entering the field, and information should be available for parent and player education on these safety policies and procedures.
We will over-communicate and continually educate the parents on the protocols due to the risks of COVID-19 and make sure everyone understands that participation is a personal choice. Players will not be penalized for not participating during the pandemic.
Parents and coaches will agree to this verbally and sign a waiver agreeing to follow all protocols.
Cal South membership includes over 136,000 players, coaches, and administrators. A part of US Youth Soccer, the largest youth soccer organization in America with over 3 million youth soccer players, Cal South represents youth and adult soccer from north of Santa Barbara to the southern border of the USA and Mexico and from Imperial Valley to the Pacific Ocean.
Several other youth soccer state associations across America have opened up and are allowing youth soccer players back on the fields. Below is a graphic from the Arizona State Association.
While Return to Play protocols vary slightly, each state has gradually advanced from small group training with social distancing requirements to gameplay.
For helping young players understand the Coronavirus pandemic, this free book might be of interest: ‘MY HERO IS YOU, HOW KIDS CAN FIGHT COVID-19’ BOOK HELPS KIDS COPE