ORAN GE, California. (AP) – Anna Smith recently arrived at Fred Kelly Stadium in Southern California on Friday night with a half-year-old cardboard tire of her brother. Soon more and more spectators gathered on the white of the school stadium, some wearing face masks embroidered with the shirt numbers of their favorite players.
For El Modena High School, football returns on Friday night – though now in the spring instead of the usual time in the fall.
The team recently played its second football game of the season as more areas of California eased coronavirus restrictions – living in the country’s most populous state to normal.
In the United States over the past year, heavy-handed children’s sports have begun, as the epidemic closed schools for the first time, changed the way parents, coaches, and officials approach extracurricular activities that are so important to students’ lives. The rules for youth sports varied from state to province, from athlete to coach, often keeping on the edge of their seats for months.
In California, soccer players who have returned to the game must comply with restrictions that public health experts say are necessary to keep young athletes safe as the state’s overall coronavirus rates fall.
During the second day of the game, March 19, El Modena coaches and parents said they were relieved that the players were happy to be back on the pitch. School security guard Michael Casares shouted every time the team bought yards. The coaches were also loud, although sometimes reminding the children that they were spreading out.
“This last year was clearly different from the epidemic. It was up and down for the children. We tried to keep everything as normal as possible, “said head coach Matt Mitchell.
This season is not without a normal football routine. The school has to play six games, four less than in the pre-epidemic season. The gym equipment was moved to an outdoor racquetball court. Players can not enter the locker room. And there are no dishes for any team before the game.
With no closed areas, during that last game, the athletes rested on the concrete floor during the half. But Tom Leonard said he and his teammates were not against the inconvenience.
“Many of us did not think we would get here, so it feels awful to just be able to play, even just six games,” Leonard said.