CYSA gets green light to play rec soccer this season

CYSA gets green light to play rec soccer this season

Youth teams begin schedule Sept. 19

CUMBERLAND – It’s official: The Cumberland Youth Soccer Association will play a fall recreational season.

Thanks to a detailed plan, which was crafted by CYSA president Mike Friedland, VP of Recreation Mark Finder, and their Board of Directors and approved less than two weeks ago by the R.I. Department of Health and R.I. Parks & Recreation Department, the town’s popular youth organization received the green light from the town on Tuesday afternoon to officially play a seven-week schedule at Diamond Hill Park that will begin on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The CYSA, which is celebrating its 30th year, will wrap up its season on Saturday, Nov. 7, and the league will take Columbus Day weekend off.

“The CYSA believes that recreational soccer is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before,” read the second paragraph of the 3½-page plan. “The pandemic has persisted for many months and is likely to impact our daily lives for many more months to come. Children have endured significant anxiety producing change brought on by the pandemic. Daily routines have been turned upside down. Social connections with friends have been significantly reduced.

“Children need, desire, and thrive with daily routines and healthy socialization,” the paragraph continued. “Recreational soccer will assist in returning some of the routines and socialization that existed prior to the pandemic. Precautions will need to be taken, and modifications to the game will be required in order to achieve this goal safely. CYSA believes that if all work together and cooperate with the necessary precautions, our children will benefit greatly from the experience.”

Stressing that the “safety of all participants is our number one priority,” the CYSA issued a list of requirements “that must be adhered to” throughout the season, and here are the ones highlighting the list:

• At least one CYSA board member will be present at each field to enforce the requirements and answer any questions or concerns.

• Stable groups of less than 50 people (players, coaches, and referee) will be the norm throughout the season.

• All participants (Board of Directors, coaches, referees, players, and parents/guardians) must wear masks at all times while on the field and maintain social distancing of at least six feet, with the exception of the players who are active in practices and games.

• All participants must enter through the entrance adjacent to the pavilion and exit on the opposite side of the field to allow for one-way directional traffic.

• Signs will be placed at the field’s entrance and several other strategic locations not only advising that masks are required by all participants while on the field, but also requiring anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to refrain from entering the field.

• Coaches will verbally screen all players at the beginning of each practice and game, and they will be provided with (and will maintain) sanitizer in their coaching kit for their teams to use before and after practices and games. All balls, goals, and other equipment will be sanitized before and after practices and games.

• Because no more than 250 participants may be on the field at any given time, only one spectator/guardian (per player or youth referee) will be on the field’s sideline, and they must remain at least 10 feet from the sideline and six feet from each other at all times. Any additional spectators will be asked to leave.

• There will be no concession stand – the pavilion space where the concession stand is located will be turned into an information and sanitizing center – and parents, coaches, and guardians are not allowed to provide any team snacks or other refreshments.

As for the modifications to practices and games:

• With the exception of the goalie, who is wearing gloves, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands at any time. That means throw-ins will be replaced by “kick-ins” and players must retrieve a ball with their feet if they have to return it to the field of play.

• No spectators are allowed to touch the ball when it goes out of bounds. If anyone touches the ball, the game will be stopped so that the ball can be sanitized or replaced by a board member.

• With the exception of the U14 and U19 age divisions, headers will not be allowed.

• As for physical contact between players, that will be limited, and there will be no slide tackling, high fives, fist bumps, or elbow bumps before, during, or after games.

• Coaches cannot enter the field of play at any time unless they are attending to an injured player. If physical contact is required to attend to an injured player, then sanitizer will be utilized as soon as possible.

• There will be no playoffs or picture day this season.

The CYSA also reported its COVID-19 response plan, noting that “the R.I. Department of Health will be notified immediately by a member of the CYSA’s Board of Directors upon notification of a participant with known or suspected COVID-19 symptoms. The CYSA will follow the R.I. Department of Health’s guidance and instructions on how to handle the situation.

In general, when a participant is suspected to have COVID-19, the participant will be required to refrain from any and all recreational activities until a negative COVID-19 test is received by the Board of Directors.”

Also, the CYSA announced that it will not have a TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) season for players with disabilities, stressing that the “safety of or players and buddies cannot be maintained.” As for the CYSA’s Rugrats program, which introduces the sport to children under the age of four, it will be business as usual, with one parent/guardian and ball per player, maintaining social distancing at all times between the other guardian/player groups.

The CYSA was the first organization to put forth this plan to the state directors and was pleased to receive their approval. The plan is now being used and recommended by state officials as the guide for all clubs within Soccer-RI to ensure the possibility of a safe and healthy season.