When the spring soccer season had to be called off due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was the matter of registration fees to return that had been paid by hundreds of families enrolled in the Charlestown Youth Soccer season.
President Allen Reitz had given a couple of options, such as returning the money or applying it to next fall’s season. Yet, board members came up with a third piece, and that was allowing families to donate their spring fees to Harvest on Vine or the Kennedy Center – a move endorsed by Board member Tim McKenna as something he wanted to try.
It paid off literally and figuratively.
Reitz reported that 53 player fees were donated, which was 12 percent of the total, and that amounted to $5,070 to help with ongoing food and support efforts at the Town’s two major social service organizations.
“I was psyched,” said Reitz. “I knew we would have some participation in this, but never thought it would be this much. People simply had the option to donate and so many jumped on board. I want to thank all of our members for their generous support in these challenging times.”
The generosity coming from such an unlikely place was a glimmer of hope for an organization – like many youth sports – that are in uncertain territory.
Right now, Charlestown Youth Soccer is planning for their big fall season, but nothing will likely be the same.
“Everything has been delayed this year,” he said. “For the fall season, it’s planned. We have opened up our registration. We will have to send the league the players that will be playing and that needs to be sent up by the end of June. The League, though, has now given us until August.”
Already, 300 of the players rolled over their fees to the fall, indicating they will play soccer. That was an unknown and welcome news. Many youth sports organizations have worried that parents might not want their kids, and themselves, to play close-contact sports so soon.
“The numbers will grow higher,” he said. “What I’ll be interested to see is how high the number grow. Some might take the year off and I don’t blame them. We’ve been in discussions about that with the league and the various team presidents weekly.”
Phase 2 has featured an accommodation for youth sports and summer camps, but much is still to be worked out – even for the fall season in sports like soccer.
“Everything is on the table for playing in the fall – including going from two practices a week to one,” he said. “We’ve thought about having the practices with the teams kind of herded together into small areas and they stay within their team.”
They are even thinking about reducing the numbers of players on the field during practice from six to four at a time.
“With these restrictions, if anyone got infected, we know what group players were in and we can contact trace and do our due diligence,” he said. “It’s a whole different way of thinking.”
And that is just the start of such different thinking.
One of the biggest worries in all youth sports, including soccer, is for the adults who enjoy being in the stands together or on the sidelines. That is something that may not be part of youth sports in the fall and winter.
“For instance, parents may have to stay in their cars and drop off the kids and not come down to the field,” he said. “We may have to have games where we restrict it to having one parent there per kid. There is a lot on the table in the sense of a new way of doing sports. You hope you can at least get something semi-normal as far as soccer.”
That is also bookended with changing some of the rules of the games, including the numbers of players on the field at a time. Reitz said there is talk of taking the standing 11 player teams and having 10 or 9 players at a time to increase distancing during competition.
It’s all very new and different, but still uncertain as the phases roll out.
“You kind of have to change your thinking process on the beautiful game if you want to have anything at all,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is take temperatures on the sidelines every weekend…We’re still in discussions though. Phase 2 isn’t really here yet and we don’t fully know what it will be like.”