CA club, adult sports leagues allowed to play again, even in counties in restrictive tiers

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Coach Ted Kempf's Albany Berkeley Soccer Club team has been practicing at the Tom Bates Sports Complex in Berkeley throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they will be able to actually start playing games.

"Instead of a training session, you'd actually be putting on your kit and coming out to play and there would be referees on the field!" says Kempf.

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Last week, California relaxed the rules regulating high school sports. As of Friday, the new rules allow club and adult leagues to get back to competition as well, even in counties in the state's most restrictive tier.

The list of sports was also expanded to include more sports such as gymnastics and baseball.

The guidelines leave it to each county, district or school to decide if they will resume play.

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"They have been conditioning so hard to be able to return to play and they can now actually showcase their skills and what they've learned," says Coach Viadehi Dandekar, who is also with the Albany Berkeley Soccer Club, or ABSC.

ABSC coaches say they will send out surveys to the parents and players to see who wants to play in the games. The coaches say some families have shown hesitation to compete during a pandemic.

"Although we are returning back to play, we are still in a pandemic and that's something we need to be careful of," explains Dandekar.

"Playing against teams again. Running around more. And seeing other kids playing against us," is what 8-year-old Zoe Aguirre says she is looking forward to.

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She knows her season is about to change. But what won't change is having to wear masks. Coaches and spectators have to wear mask, and as do athletes, who aren't actively playing.

Coach Nico Reicher says that being able to compete is an important step in getting back to normal life.

"You practice, and practice, and practice, and have the payoff of winning a game, or just going to a competition, in general. And I'm excited for them to see what the end goal is," says Reicher.

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