Youth: How COVID-19 Has Affected Youth Soccer Worldwide

Dec 8, 2020

*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*

COVID-19 has made a monumental shift in almost every aspect of our lives. With businesses and schools closed, facilities shuttered, and the virus ravaging across the US and Canada, most youth soccer players find themselves benched for the season. Many players and parents are wondering what effect these cancellations will have on their beloved game?

This post will look at some of the effects of the global pandemic on youth soccer and examine how the pandemic could change the game for the foreseeable future. 

Risks of COVID-19

COVID-19 is spreading across North America, and everyone in the soccer world must take precautions to prevent further spread. Toronto, Canada, is currently in lockdown, with all non-essential businesses and city services closed. The impact of these closures on sports, especially team sports like youth soccer, has been devastating. 

Some American and Canadian cities eased restrictions in the Fall and allowed sports teams and players to resume practice and playing games. Most required teams to have risk reduction plans to limit the transmission of the virus. 

Many people wondered why it was safe for some teams in certain places to play and for other areas to have protocols that restrict games and practices? This inconsistency in policy has made it very frustrating for parents and players, who all want to get back to playing their favorite game. 

Benefits of Organized Sports

The benefits of organized sports, including youth soccer, is well documented. Improved physical fitness and improved mental health, and social skills are all part of the game. This makes the cancellation of sports even harder to take, as these benefits are desperately needed at this stressful time. 

Because COVID is more likely to spread indoors to a group of people in enclosed areas, some experts say that outdoor team sports, with precautions in place, might be a relatively safe way to get exercise and improve psychological health. 

Risk of COVID-19 in Soccer

A recent study by Wisconsin Public Health and the University of Wisconsin looked at the return to play for youth soccer teams in the US this summer and the incidence of COVID-19. They found that the rate of COVID-19 among youth soccer players was low compared to the incidence of COVID-19 in youth in the general US population. 

Of the 282 positive cases reported among players, only one was attributed to transmission during soccer activities. The study also said that youth soccer clubs surveyed all reported implementing risk reduction procedures. 

Changes In-Play

In the fall, many teams began adopting safety protocols to limit the transmission of the virus. 

The goal was to consider the distance between participants, stay outdoors - outdoors being safer than indoors, and avoid face-to-face exposure. 

Some of these changes include asking players to change into uniforms at home to avoid close quarters in indoor change facilities. Others have made strict non-contact rules, smaller group sizes, and protocols for self-screening, cleaning, and distancing - even placing water bottles two meters apart. 

Most significantly, many youth recreational soccer teams, including those in Ottawa, Canada, have switched to a more skills-focused activity that allows for exercise and keeping distance, rather than playing games. 

For equipment to help keep up your training at this uncertain time, take a look at our protective gear for youth. We carry training jerseys, pants, and protective leggings specifically for youth soccer players to keep you safe from turf burns and falls.
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