An Independence Day celebration will be held two days later for soccer players throughout the Capital Region as Monday is the official first day of low- and medium-risk organized sports programs to begin.
“The waiting has been extremely tough,” Clifton Park Soccer youth development program director Cassidy Jones said Thursday during a phone interview. “We shut down the first or second week of March, with just two weeks left of the indoor season, and everybody was planning to come out in the spring.”
Players, coaches and students had to deal with the disruption of school schedules, sports, and social changes.
It wasn’t until the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association [ENYYSA] issued guidance on Tuesday that soccer, as a medium-risk sport, could resume play on Monday.
Monday isn’t a new date for the Capital Region. It has always been the official start date of travel, all-star or organized play in low- and moderate-risk sports, which was confirmed by The Daily Gazette via an email from a spokesperson in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“As stated in the guidance, moderate-risk sports, including formal practices, may resume on July 6, in regions that have reached or surpassed Phase 3 of reopening,” the email said.
While the Capital Region is taking advantage of all the re-opening guidelines in businesses and social gathering, soccer is calling Monday its own Phase 1.
Practices will be limited to a maximum of nine players and one coach, who is expected to maintain social distancing.
On July 27, full team training is allowed with social distancing and then Aug. 17 is the target date for games within the Capital Region and single day competitions and/or tournaments as stated from the ENYYSA issued guidelines.
That is, at least, the current plan.
“You can easily slip into a conversation that seems like you’re planning for a normal year, and we could get shut down at the drop of the hat, especially now with what’s going on with New York and these hot spots,” Jones said. “If I have a family that goes to North Carolina for whatever reason and comes back, they can’t come to practice for two weeks.”
The Clifton Park Soccer Club, like many sports programs, have canceled its recreational programs and will use the restart for its travel and all-star squads.
“We have a pretty organized staff of specialists, the coaches have been around a long time,” Jones said. “Most of them are not parents. They know how to run an efficient practice.”
Jones coaches the Clifton Park Soccer Club U18 boys’ squad, and will not hold back when he gets them back on the pitch.
“These first few weeks, we’ll be working on an individual’s skills that will make it competitive in the sense of relays or speed races, or something that requires some performance and execution, but not in a game-like environment,” Jones said. “We’re going to do that now so we can kind of start the [travel] season, try to get as much in as we possibly can between now and the fall before what might be the flu season and anticipation of things slowing down, maybe again, if not sooner, and we really can’t look beyond that.”