Nobody knows what soccer tournament play will look like post-pandemic, but the soccer community does agree on one thing; there will be soccer tournaments. It remains to be seen how much less contact the “non-contact” sport will become.
Regardless, it will be interesting.
Tournament directors will have to think deeper about how they want to manage their fields, what social distancing means, and how much health-related behavior compliance they can require. In some states, there will be laws and executive orders to aid the directors, whereas some states will bend more toward individual liberties. The rift will be felt most when teams from less complaint states will cross into those with stricter safety guidelines.
In any respect, a solid #COVID-19 policy should be crafted now, teams applying into your tournament event should be required to sign (explicitly or via the application TOS) and a plan for execution and enforcement drawn up now, before the fall season gets busy.
Our recommendations are:
- Keep it simple. Then simplify it even more.
- Use as little technology* as possible to communicate and execute the plan on-site.
- Sanitize everything. Be visible, show your guest teams that you take this seriously and in return, you expect them to take it seriously.
- Use signage, big signs with as few words as possible. Be specific, direct, don’t worry about being
- Use physical barriers, ground markings, etc to calculate distancing for the participants. ENFORCE THEM WITH ZERO TOLERANCE! There is a lawn company locally that advertises on TV.. their tag line is “if you give a weed an inch, they will take a yard.” Don’t give up one inch of your six feet distancing.
Here are some signage ideas:
- Face masks are required for all players and attendees. Players ONLY may remove mask while on the pitch, but mask must remain on while on the sidelines.
- Parents and fans are encouraged to remain in their cars during games.
- Spectators MUST remain 6 ft apart while on the touchline and may NOT extend past the box.
- Wash your hands.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Move quickly between games but maintain social distance.
- ABSOLUTELY NOBODY EXCEPT TOURNAMENT STAFF IS ALLOWED IN THE HQ TENT or within 30 ft from the front or any other opening.
On another note, when teams come out for Fall tournaments, they may not be in the best shape for competition. Even if individual players have kept up their fitness and ball skills, they will have lost a bit of team play. It will take them a bit to find their rhythm.
Should you include your COVID-19 policy in your official rules? YES, we think so!
Be patient. Be safe.
*Sounds weird coming from a technology company, right? But as we’ve been all taking a break, we’ve been watching a lot of soccer tech companies making a lot of noise about how they will be solving the social distancing issues that are inherent in soccer tournaments. This is great stuff, I suppose, if compliance were 100%, but every tournament director knows that a plan only sounds great — until that whistle blows. Then, it’s organized chaos. Keep it super simple; don’t tech the crap out of something that a good sign, field markings and rope can solve.