Saratoga High senior excited about soccer season following CA sports ban

"To know that I will get to have that portion of my senior year soccer-wise, and being able to practice with the girls that I have been playing with for the last few years is exciting."

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Saturday, February 20, 2021
High school senior excited about soccer season following sports ban
A high school senior will soon be able to enjoy the remaining part of her school year playing soccer after the youth sports ban in California has been lifted for most sports.

SARATOGA, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been more than a year since Leila Chaudhry scored a goal with her with her Saratoga High School teammates.

"Half of your face is covered. I haven't see my teammates nostrils, mouths or anything in a while," says Chaudhry with a big laugh. "We all joke about that at practice."

High school sports were banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Friday, the ban was lifted on some outdoor sports, with extra protocols in place for high-contact sports like football. This comes after a long-fought battle by coaches and parents.

"There is a mountain of evidence that supports that youth sports, done safely, is not a threat to the community," says Serra High Football Coach Patrick Walsh, one of the coaches leading the charge.

RELATED: California says outdoor youth sports can resume in some counties

Leila has been playing club soccer for the past 12 years. The center forward made the high school varsity team as freshman. To have some version of a soccer season during her senior year is big win, says Leila.

"To know that I will get to have that portion of my senior year soccer-wise, and being able to practice with the girls that I have been playing with for the last few years is exciting," she says.

Even though she is excited to get back out on the field, there is still concern about catching and spreading COVID-19.

RELATED: Future of high school sports, impact of COVID-19 pandemic: 'Mental health is sliding'

"If we were to go back to play, and I got COVID from playing and gave it back to my family, or potentially infected my grandparents, I would feel absolutely awful!" says Chaudhry.

Leila has been sending out recruitment reels since there hasn't been any big tournaments for recruiters to watch her play. However, as is the case with so many high school seniors, losing her senior year due to the pandemic means potentially lost opportunities to be recruited to play in college.

"For me personally, soccer is going to be a really big influence on where I go because it has been such a big part of my life for so long," says Chaudhry.

RELATED: California youth, adult sports competitions put on hold amid COVID-19 surge

Her father, Ismail, sitting by her side, says it's tough to watch his daughter miss out on her final year of club and high school play, after dedicating her whole life to the "beautiful game."

"You get knocked down, you get back up. The challenges and the adversity that life throws at you make you that much stronger of a person," says Ismail.

Soccer starts in two weeks for Chaudhry and her teammates.

The family says they want to know what safety protocols in place before giving Leila the green-light to play. But she remain optimistic about the season and her future.

"I'm just hoping it will all work out in the end. And I have a feeling that wherever I go, it will be meant to be. I'm just hoping it will all pan out," says Leila.