Two competing local youth soccer associations have banded together to propose a plan — including appropriate safety protocols — that they hope will provide a path out of the coronavirus-induced idling of soccer throughout the state.
In a letter to Gov. Tim Walz, Matthew Madeira, executive director of the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, and Matt Tiano, CEO of Twin Cities Soccer Leagues, provided a five-phase outline.
The two organizations represent more than 60,000 youth soccer players in the state.
“We wanted the governor’s office to know that we have taken steps to plan for a healthy process for a return to playing soccer,” Madeira said.
Said Tiano: “We want to impress there are ways we can open up soccer safely. Games and tournaments may be further down the line. But we know our members … want to have some form of organized activity.”
The five-step plan, over time, would take the sport from where it is now back to practice and, at some point, games and tournaments.
Phase 1 — the current situation — has players doing individual workouts at home, guided by their club via the internet.
Phase 2 allows for outdoor practice sessions with 10 or fewer people, including players and coaches. Specific protocols would be in place to maintain social distancing and eliminate any contact, but would allow for an organized activity.
Phase 3 would include resumption of team training, again with appropriate protocols.
Phase 4 allows for resumption of league matches, again with protocols for both players and spectators.
Phase 5 is a return to the sport the way it was before the outbreak of the virus.
In the letter to Walz both Madeira and Tiano said returning to games and tournaments may not be realistic in the near future.
State youth baseball and softball organizations banded together in late April to present a similar plan to Walz. This was shortly before Walz extended the stay-at-home order two more weeks to Monday.