Members of San Diego’s youth sports community are organizing a rally on Saturday to protest the state’s COVID-19 mandates that currently restrict youth teams from playing competitively in California.
The rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the West Plaza of the County Administration Center at 1600 Pacific Highway.
Currently, youth sports teams in California are only allowed to conduct drills and training exercises but are not allowed to play competitively against each other.
“Our kids are not being accounted for. It’s our job as adults, our responsibility to speak for these kids,” said Bob Turner, Executive Director of Presidio Soccer, which oversees 51 clubs and thousands of local youth soccer players.
Turner is also alarmed with the number of ‘rogue’ teams that are leaving the state to play competitively. Currently, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington allow teams to compete.
“Teams are traveling five hours to go to Phoenix to play in some of these friendly matches and then turning around and two days later and driving back. They’re playing teams from all over the country. Is that really protecting the spread of this more than what we could do?” said Turner.
Turner is hoping the rally will get the attention of state and county leaders and convince them they can, if given the chance, safely begin competitive play.
“If you would look at the protocols and the guidelines, the procedures that we have, it’s very strict,” said Turner.
A spokesperson for the county said leaders understand the urge, but they will continue to follow the state's lead.
“We understand everyone wants to get going again, said San Diego County spokesperson Michael Workman. But the state guidance on competition is clear for now. That is the guidance we are following."
Workman says the state has no immediate plans to update it's restrictions. An email to the governor's office was not immediately returned.
According to a press release sent out by Presidio Soccer, within the San Diego soccer community, hundreds of thousands of athletes have engaged in training without a single record of transmission related to soccer activity.
Turner says youth sports organizations from across San Diego County, parents, and coaches are all invited to the rally.