Youth athletes, parents urge state to allow competitive play

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — It’s been more than 6 months since young athletes have been able to compete in organized sports in San Diego, and some players and their parents have organized a weekend rally to call for more guidelines on safely resuming.

According to current state guidelines, youth sports teams are only allowed to conduct practices and drills — they can’t play competitively against one another.

The state says “smaller groups are safer than larger,” and keeping kids within a single “cohort” — like a class or a team, where players are only exposed to one another — can help limit the spread of the virus if someone gets sick.

But attendees of this weekend’s rally say that competitions can be reopened safely, and that the lack of actual games is keeping kids off the field.

“He needs to burn his energy. Be outdoors. He likes being outdoors and likes playing,” Joe Salvador told FOX 5.

He has a 5-year-old son named Joshua who plays youth soccer, but with the pandemic, all practices and games have been put on hold. That’s why Salvador says he tries to find as much time as possible to get Joshua outside playing the sport he loves.

“That’s very important for him to also be active, and for his health as well,” Salvador said.

Bob Turner is the executive director of the Presidio Soccer League. He says his organization’s pool of 35,000 kids is eager to play competitive and recreational soccer again around the county.

“These kids — it’s driving them crazy. They need to be back on the field. To take this away for really no reason is just incredible and needs to stop,” Turner said.

That’s why he and others say they are holding the rally Saturday at 10 a.m. outside the County Administration Building downtown.

“If you can open playgrounds, nail salons, and you can open up barbershops and the beaches … why can’t we open?” Turner asked.

He believes youth sports leagues can enforce new standards once they’re allowed to restart, including temperature checks, masks for coaches, parents and players on the sidelines. He said his teams would also limit parent attendees to one per player.

Turner tells FOX 5 the county has agreed to the guidelines, so now it’s a matter of getting them approved by the state.

That will be the focus of Saturday’s rally, where organizers say players will wear jerseys, bring club banners and make signs. They also promised face coverings and social distancing would be required.

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