By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
October 22, 2020-Last spring, New York once again became Ground Zero but this time for the coronavirus pandemic. But much hard work on the part of New Yorkers has reduced the positive test rates to decrease to approximately 1% for the past four months, allowing organized soccer to reboot in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) on July 6 with socially distant and small team practices. By the end of July, teams were allowed to play games plus tournaments of just local teams competing started up again in August.
Many of Eastern New York’s leagues kicked off their Fall Season last month and all agree that the best part about returning to play is seeing the joy on the players’ faces in being able to play the world’s most popular sport with their teammates again. Coaches and players on the bench are wearing masks and refs are checking but no longer collecting player passes. The leagues that make up Eastern New York are as diverse as the people of the Empire State so it’s not surprising that different leagues reported different challenges in rebooting soccer.
Juan Alvarado, the Manager of the Metrokids Youth Soccer League (MYSL), explained, “The biggest challenge that Metrokids has faced is hosting games with a reduced number of clubs. All of the clubs were affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. As a result, some just couldn’t return to the league. Those that did returned with less teams participating. Under these circumstances, the league has still been able to keep the league competitive for the clubs.”
A similar issue occurred with the Big Apple Youth Soccer League (BAYSL). President Carlos Vergara said that they lost players because of the virus and has recently had to move games away from Flushing as it’s in the yellow zone with a spike in cases. No more than 25 people can attend events in the yellow zone.
Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) Director Dimitrie Draguca stated, “The biggest challenge has been getting clubs organized with their schedules and player registrations in time so we can play games.”
The Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), Eastern New York’s largest league, has dubbed starting up again Remain to Play. Managing Director Steve Padaetz said, “With the fluid nature of COVID, consistent and effective communications, at all levels, has taken on even greater importance within a league with the size and extensive footprint of LIJSL. Prior to the season kicking off, required virtual meetings were held with all club presidents, as well as for coaches representing teams in every age/gender group from Under-9 through Under-19. Additionally, we communicated directly with each and every player-family by e-blast, as well as utilizing our digital foot print with web and social media to underscore league messaging. Cooperation among our member clubs in working together to support and host matches has provided a ‘glass half-full’ sense.”
East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) President Stephen Orr explained, “The big challenge that East Hudson set out to address was the multiple back to play and COVID-19 related policies that have been issued from various organizations including United States Youth Soccer, New York State Department of Health, etc. East Hudson and the Hudson Valley Soccer Referees Association partnered together to go through all the various policies and distill them into the EHYSL and HVSRA Return to Play Health and Safety Protocol for clubs, players and referees. This protocol has defined the expectations for both EHYSL clubs and referees on what it takes to ‘Return and Continue’ to play soccer in the Hudson Valley.”
Capital District Youth Soccer League (CDYSL) President Roy Pfeil commented, “The biggest challenge was getting everyone registered for Fall Ball under the new GotSoccer platform. Additionally, one club revised its face mask policy stating that everyone had to wear a mask during the game and they also wanted their opponents to wear masks as well. Our executive committee did not approve that rule so the club pulled out of Fall Ball.”
Frank Conestabile, co-founder of the Rising Stars Soccer Club in the Central New York Youth Soccer League said, “Our biggest challenge is keeping all the kids safe, making certain our Rising Stars Soccer Center and everybody abide by the guidelines provided.”
No games have been played yet in the Mid-State New York Soccer League although some clubs have started practicing. And although travel teams in the Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) started playing games last month, the intramural teams were only able to start practicing two weeks ago due to all the issues getting field permits from New York City Parks and the Federal Government.