Governor Gavin Newsom’s Eases Restrictions on COVID-19 — Allows Players To Return To Field For Camps
As long as the safety protocols set forth by the state and local officials are strictly observed, youth soccer camps can launch now after an 11-week suspension of all practices and games due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Youth soccer in California will restart — slowly.
How does California Governor Gavin Newsom‘s COVID-19 update today impact California youth soccer clubs? California’s youth sports organizations are able to now offer youth soccer camps, many counties have announced their protocols with additional areas to follow.
Even this has taken a significant effort. In Southern California, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar has been the strongest political advocate working tirelessly to gain awareness of the issue and approval for the return of youth sports.
Over the weekend, Gaspar announced the below safety protocols for Day Camps which were added to the open for business list for San Diego County.
“If you can adhere to these guidelines, you are good to go immediately!”Kristin Gaspar, San Diego County Supervisor
The protocols include:
- All parents and guardians of youth participants will be required to sign a commitment to abide by the plan requirements prior to being allowed to participate or enter a facility.
- Organizations will divide participants into “stable youth groups” limiting group participation to 12 (not including staff). These groups should be consistent and rostered as such. Participants cannot be added to this roster.
- Stable youth groups will not be allowed to mingle or leave the designated area for that group.
- Frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as equipment, doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms per CDC guidelines.
- Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap, and water, or similar disinfectant readily available. Place readily visible signage to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
- Parents should ideally drop off kids and pick them up from camp. If parents choose to stay and observe, they may do so from pre-designated areas, while keeping proper distancing from kids and other parents.
- Participants should be encouraged to use cloth face coverings and reminded not to touch the face covering.
- Credit card or charge account payments only, no cash payments will be accepted at the facility. Payment for programs will not require a credit card signature.
- All participant and staff personal items such as bags, cell phones, personal reusable water flasks/bottles, and backpacks will only be allowed in the facility or on the field if proper space is maintained between all items.
Regardless of the specifics of the safety protocols, this is a huge step forward.
While California state restrictions have not eased to permit youth soccer clubs to let players Return To Play as proposed by many the counties, youth soccer camps can at least start now, as long as they follow the (many) proper safety protocols.
While many other neighboring states have allowed youth soccer to Returned To Play, California has steadily been highly protective of its young citizens and the Governor’s office been resistant to the pressure pushing for a relaunch of youth sports. The Governor’s announcement on June 5th, was the first sign welcoming a new normal that includes organized youth sports for kids.
Gaspar formed Game On San Diego, a collation of hundreds of the county’s youth sports organizations, and crafted the comprehensive proposal submitted to the Governor’s office in an effort to allow the city’s children to return to practice fields and gyms as quickly and safely as possible.
Gaspar, who is also a youth sports coach, said, “Our kids desperately need this outlet for the physical, emotional, and character-building benefits that organized sports provide. It’s time to get our kids moving again.”
After Newsom’s press conference last Friday, Gaspar held a Zoom call for San Diego’s youth sports leaders and answered questions on how the new guidelines would go into effect.
Gaspar received well deserved widespread appreciation and thanks for her advocacy of youth sports and the state’s younger citizens.
“Although the announcement was released today by the state, moving the guidelines through our public health officer’s hands should take until Wednesday, June 10,” said Gaspar who would prefer programs to wait for the County of San Diego to formalize this new protocol before launching their camps.
The question of scrimmaging and contact during youth sports came up repeatedly during the zoom call and there was a clear response.
“If you are playing a contact sport, then there will be contact but every effort should be made to give kids breaks to wash their hands and social distancing should be maintained whenever possible,” said Gaspar. “Within the group of 12, players can scrimmage but you can not have two groups of 12 coming into contact with each other. So, two groups of 12 can not be scrimmaging against each other.”
“It is very important that the camps keep the groups of 12 players consistent.”Kristin Gaspar, San Diego County Supervisor
“In case anyone was to ever test positive, there would have to be notifications sent out by the Department of Public Health,” said Gaspar. “The Department of Public Health would likely reach out to the club for the group’s roster.” The goal is obviously to limit the potential spread of the Coronavirus.
Another issue facing Calfornia youth sports organizations — lack of field maintenance during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some fields have not been maintained well, so there may be some field maintenance that is needed,” said Gaspar. “Hopefully, the Game on San Diego collation can get the word out that we need some volunteers who can help with reopening the fields.”
Overall, the easing of restrictions has been met with great enthusiasm, relief, and appreciation.
“Thank you to everyone who has been working on this complex issue and helping get our kids back on the field,” said Bob Turner, President of Cal South Soccer. “At least allowing the clubs to run their camps program is a step in the right direction.”
“We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all players and coaches to follow the strict safety guidelines to ensure we can move on returning to play in the next phase, hopefully in the near future,” said Turner.
“We are anxiously awaiting the release of the exact guidelines and protocols from the State and County,” said Turner. A final decision will be made shortly and Cal South’s Guidelines For Youth Soccer Camps will be posted on their site.
“Knowing all the risks and the chances of infection the State and County were cautious in regard to restarting all sports,” said Brian Quinn, Coaching Director, San Diego Soccer Club (SDSC). “Our responsibility as coaches is to make sure we approach the return to play in a safe and measured manner. Experience, knowledge, and patience will be the key.
“We feel that at SDSC we have these qualities throughout our coaching staff and will make the return to play as seamless as possible,” added Quinn who is a well known former pro player.
The responsibility now turns to the leaders of youth sports to ensure the safety of the kids and the sustainability of our sports.”Brian Enge, CEO of Surf Soccer
“We are thrilled that the Governor has allowed youth sports camps to start. This is so important for the kids and families that rely on youth sports for their physical and mental health,” said Brian Enge, CEO of Surf Soccer. Surf will launch a free camp for their players on Wednesday. Participation will be voluntary and will not replace team Zoom training.
Noah Gins, CEO of Albion SC and ASC San Diego agrees and believes the community will rise to the challenge so youth soccer players will be able to play the beautiful game in the near future. “The time has come for us all to take the next step to return to play with responsibility and follow all the steps needed to be back in full force,” said Gins.
“We are very excited at the opportunity to get the kids out on the fields,” said Michael Duggan, Director of Operations, City SC who will be getting his club’s players back on the fields in Carlsbad towards the middle or end of next week.
Duggan, who worked with Gaspar on the plans for restarting youth sports, believes that the County of San Diego would not even be this far along without her efforts. “I do not know why we haven’t been recognized properly and how other businesses with higher risks than youth soccer are able to restart and we can not resume practices with our carefully phased plans. If youth sports are now being recognized as childcare, then why couldn’t we open six weeks ago?”
Among the many safety guidelines, all childcare providers, as well as players, will have to be screened daily for a health check. Temperature checks are mandatory for kids.
Masks are recommended.
Face coverings are encouraged by the California Department of Public Health for everyone to wear, but the decision on whether or not the kids have to wear a maks is up to the parents.
Here is the SAN DIEGO COUNTY YOUTH SPORTS PHYSICAL DISTANCING & SAFETY PLAN PRACTICE AND DRILLS template:
Note: Advice from other states who have returned to play already — Youth soccer parents maintaining social distancing while dropping off, picking up youth players, or watching from the sideline is also a key to keeping everyone safe as youth soccer resumes.
“In my opinion, youth soccer has been misclassified from the beginning,” said Turner who served as the president of San Diego from 2009 until he resigned to take over Cal South Soccer. “San Diego County has over 20,000 competitive youth soccer players plus approximately 20,000 additional recreational players. Soccer is an outdoor sport played all year round in our city and is a very healthy activity for our kids. I remain hopeful that the decision-makers will take the time to breakdown youth sports and realize that training in some sports, like soccer, should return to play sooner than others.”
Updated: 6 PM – New quote from Cal South