The covid-19 virus spread fast worldwide, forcing governments to develop stringent measures to curb the spread. Due to lockdowns and social distance directives, youth soccer players couldn't go to the field for plays or even training. As a result, Covid-19 brought major world soccer tournaments like EPL, UEFA Champions League, and local youth soccer to a sudden hiatus.
Though things are almost back to normal, it still makes sense to look at the implications the world of soccer will have to deal with in the post-Covid-19 periods. This piece will look at the impact of Covid-19 and future perspectives on youth soccer.
Youth Soccer teams losing their glory
Since it's hard to look at someone and know whether you have the virus, youth soccer players have lost a good level of trust in themselves. They can't coordinate well during training sessions because they fear acquiring the virus from their colleagues and missing crucial matches.
Due to the lack of solid relationships among teammates, the players cannot progress fast enough in their careers, and we now are dealing with issues of poor performance, where youth soccer teams are not as strong as they used to be. Lack of trust is an essential impact of Covid-19 on youth soccer to take note of.
Strict Lockdowns on Practice matches
With restrictions, youth soccer teams now play only practice matches against their teams. Therefore, they lack exposure to other groups, and their skills do not progress, which has kept the games stagnant as players are playing in similar conditions.
Lack of exposure to different soccer play styles makes the youth players miss out on lucrative opportunities the game offers, as it's hard for scouts to know of a player's ability when he's been playing in similar conditions for a prolonged period.
Lack of interest among Potential Players
Due to strict lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, a few training and playing facilities are available for the youth. As a result, they cannot go out to train and play as they would have before. As a result, they feel frustrated, and with very little motivation, we have youth soccer players losing interest and abandoning the game.
Little or no motivation is becoming a concern, but we are glad to see innovative, easy, and safe training solutions coming up. They come in handy to keep the athletes training and honing their skills.
Lack of sponsors
Non-profit youth soccer clubs are struggling as their sponsors have cut down their budgets, and they can no longer help soccer teams financially. We see this affecting grassroots soccer clubs and big clubs such as FC Barcelona. Most sponsors had decided not to support the team after a Covid-19 outbreak in the group.
Despite the negative impact of Covid-19, we see a sporting fraternity that is not ready to give up but instead understands the effects of the pandemic and how to navigate through the survival of the game through the 4Rs. These are recognizing struggle, reconnecting, re-engaging after the pandemic and re-imagining sport.
Recognizing Struggle and Overcoming
We cannot brush off the emotional struggle of the pandemic from the lost sporting season. We see youth soccer participants, executives of sporting organizations, and parents share in this mental and physical struggle. From recognizing this struggle, we have individuals and companies creating fitness programs, home workouts, and other forms of training content to help the youth maintain their levels of fitness and stay 'sane.'
I know you've heard the term 'reconnecting' several times. It is a term rooted in helping athletes adapt to life with their families in lockdown. Reconnecting has had positive results, especially in starting and engaging in physical activity. It is great to see how reconnecting has been taken a notch higher and highly encouraging to see parents getting involved in the training sessions.
We have some sense of reconnection between the athletes, parents, the family unit, and the training coaches.
Re-engaging after the pandemic
Re-engaging happens every time the government relaxes Covid-19 restrictions, and some outdoor sports and small group training resume. Due to lack of motivation during the conditions, there is slow uptake of the game, but with continued training, athletes are 'hungry' to get back to the sport they love.
At this point, the youth athletes are highly encouraged to put more effort into training.
The perspective youth athletes have drives success in re-imagining sports. The crucial question they ask themselves is 'What matters most in sports for the.' An answer to this question has youth soccer teams rebuilding and becoming much better than before as they engage youth athletes that are into the game for the passion and the right reasons.
All is not lost in the pandemic. Despite the impact Covid-19 has on youth soccer, the future is bright though we need to be patient as we implement the 4Rs and get our youth back to the sporting levels they were before or even better. If you need support in getting back into the game, contact us below and follow us on our socials!