Soccer During The Pandemic

Soccer During The Pandemic

Simone Schwartz

I remember the precise moment I got the notification that my Spring 2020 soccer season was canceled due to COVID-19, along with all other athletes throughout the world. Sports have such an immense impact on so many lives. Whether you actively play sports or watch professional sports as entertainment, there’s no doubt that sports have had a great influence on our culture as a nation. Almost all sports-related activities had to be canceled since most require direct contact.

When stay-at-home orders and lockdowns were in place last Spring, so many student-athletes including myself had to find a way to stay fit during this unprecedented time. Whether that was practicing footwork at home, following along to a Youtube video with limited gear and materials needed, we all had to get creative. One silver lining to having to stay at home was that I was able to focus on improving skills that I would not have focused greatly on during the regular season, such as juggling or learning new turns. I utilized a variety of online tutorials to improve these skills while at home. The downside was that I wasn’t able to practice these skills with my team.

As the pandemic progressed, restrictions started to slowly ease in terms of clubs and even some school sports leagues, depending on the area. Over the summer, training camps were in session but with precautions. While we were still able to utilize our time efficiently and work on our skills, it did differ from how training camps would run before the pandemic. I went to one over the summer and we had to social distance during water breaks, coaches had to wear masks during the training, and for a significant amount of sessions, we were not able to formally play a game in teams to limit direct contact, since the camp was right in the middle of July when restrictions were starting to lessen.  

Now that we are entering winter, some students may have their sports leagues in session, while others do not. In terms of soccer, PSAL for this past Fall has been canceled, so no NYC public schools have had a season this year. 

However, other public and private schools that are not in NYC have had soccer seasons, but with precautions. In addition, club soccer in many leagues throughout the state has continued. My team has had practices three times a week during the Fall to train, but there are precautions in place to ensure our safety during this time. 

Wearing masks is essential to participate as well as filling out a health check survey before arrival. Also, if a team member thinks that they have contracted covid, they must get tested and until results are confirmed, practices will be suspended out of caution.

With winter around the corner, many practices have moved indoors to prepare for the Spring season where we finally will be able to compete against other teams in our league. While masking is important, some players feel that it’s hindering their ability to play to their fullest potential. They may feel that it’s harder to run as it’s easier to run out of breath. 

Despite these difficulties, we as a team persevere since we are all in the same boat. While we may feel discouraged at times, we know that we’d rather be playing soccer with a mask than not having a season at all.