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Youth sports teams in St. Louis County prepare for play under new guidelines

“They love the game, the coaches love the game. So, the fact that we can get back to more normal on the soccer field, they’re just overly excited"

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. —

Many youth soccer teams based in St. Louis County have been holding practices where only individual drills were permitted, but beginning Monday, that will change.

St. Louis County will permit high-contact youth sports to resume under new safety guidelines for the first time in more than three months. 

Sporting St. Louis president Jeff Stevens said roughly 100 youth soccer teams within the organization will begin training at their complex in Mayland Heights, and many youth athletes are grateful for the opportunity.

“They’ve been dedicated, they’ve been doing their Zoom calls,” Stevens said. “They love the game, the coaches love the game. So, the fact that we can get back to more normal on the soccer field, they’re just overly excited.”

Many organizations, like Sporting St. Louis, have rented other locations to hold training in prior weeks.

Stevens said it was important for their athletes to receive the same opportunity as those from surrounding counties.

“For the teams that were in St. Louis County, it was a little of a disadvantage because your St. Charles clubs were having tryouts, and opened up, I think, almost two weeks ago,” Stevens said. “Clubs that were in your St. Louis County were going across the river to rent fields to just get training sessions in.” 

The new St. Louis County guidelines, effective June 29, permit teams to hold practices and games where the sport can be played to its full capacity.

This will include physical contact on the ball while playing, scrimmages, and games.

Stevens said even though some restrictions have been lifted, the organization will enforce the same safety protocols as before.

“The temperature checks when they show up,” Stevens said. “We’ll still ask for the social distancing. We have signs throughout the facility that ask for them to remain six feet apart. We ask for the parents to stay either in the parking lot, or really space themselves around the field.”

Stevens said the organization has also designed specific timing for practices at the facility, which will allow a team enough time to exit the facility before the next group arrives.

Stevens said the regular season won’t begin until the fall, but many youth soccer organizations are working together to host friendlies this summer.

He said friendlies will provide teams with a competitive opportunity, while still allowing coaches and directors a chance to monitor player safety.

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