Soccer teams adjust to COVID-19 restrictions as practices ramp up in the Bay Area


Fiona Swan

Open backpack with cleats, a soccer ball, and a mask showing the supplies needed to play soccer in the COVID-19 pandemic

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it has been unclear what precautions youth sports teams are taking, or if they are playing at all. Some programs require players to wear masks during in-person practices, while others are purely virtual. Some teams are even traveling and participating in competitions across the states.

San Francisco Vikings Soccer Club (SFVSC) is adjusting by holding fewer group practices. Instead, they are playing soccer in programs called the Out of School Time (OST) programs. Through these programs kids attend a session with others their age.

 “We must have two coaches that run a pod of 14 players that commit to all three-week sessions. They also must wear masks throughout the duration of the practice and must remain six feet apart from one another,” Executive Director of SFVSC Jovan Yamagishi said.

“In addition, we, as a club, take additional precautionary measures by providing hand sanitizers to all coaches to be used for our children before, during, and after practice,” Yamagishi said.

On the other hand, Miller Creek Soccer League (MCSL) decided to cancel the season altogether.

At the end of the day, we made the call when the rest of the fall sports for high school and other rec programs were canceled. There was talk about starting the fall with remote learning and after the spike in July everyone was taking it very seriously that the faster we all just get on board with social distancing, the safer it is for everyone involved,” David Neal the president of MCSL said.

“This next season we’re already talking about spring registration again. Will we be able to have a season? What will it look like? I’m sure it will be unique no matter what form it takes,” Neal continued.

High School 1327 (HS 1327) sports started to return to practicing in small pods or cohorts. Staff and players must have daily temperature checks, fill out a health screening form, wear masks at the start and end of practice, during breaks, and when inside. 

In addition, anyone who joins a sport must sign a COVID-19 waiver. By signing this waiver players are agreeing to participate in a sport and if they get hurt or sick, they will not sue the school. Players are also agreeing to abide by COVID-19 protocols.

As for when sports will most likely start up again, HS 1327 Athletic Director Alex Chapman has only a small idea.

“Basically, we are in a holding pattern until we get guidance from California Department of Public Health and the California Interscholastic Federation. The earliest I would imagine hearing anything would be 1/1/2021,” Chapman said. 

Meanwhile, SFVSC plans to continue OST sessions through the fall. 

“We hope that the guidelines will ease over time but as of now, we have no news of that happening anytime soon,” Yamagishi said.

These teams are just a few of the local sports and soccer teams adjusting to COVID-19. In this time everyone is struggling and these and other teams are doing their best to help.