With sports competitions on hold because of the pandemic, club teams like the local Alpine Strikers worried they might not be able to survive.
If matches were fully canceled for the season, the league wouldn't be able to compensate its coaches. The team, a competitive youth soccer club for ages 8 to 18 in Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Woodside, needed competitions to resume so they could continue to pay coaches, said Lisa Dunlevie of Menlo Park, an Alpine Strikers board member.
Competitive play resumed last weekend (the teams are in the NorCal Premier and Central Coast leagues). The Alpine Strikers' 17 coaches, seven staff members and 550 players among 38 teams began in-person practices in the fall. They held workouts over Zoom prior to that, said Dunlevie.
"We said, 'What can we pay coaches to maintain salaries without putting an additional burden on the families?'" she said. "They're obviously not getting the same product. ... We're in good shape for now."
She said the group adhered to all the guidelines, with socially distanced practices, and players and coaches in masks.
"We followed every guideline, unlike some clubs we saw, which was a little disheartening," she said. "We were afraid we would lose kids to those clubs because they were breaking the rules (and competing)."
Dunlevie said there is no organization she knows of for reporting soccer clubs that are flouting the state's COVID-19 rules. She also declined to name local clubs that are not adhering to the guidelines.
"You just have to roll your eyes and hope for the best," she said.
Dunlevie said the Alpine Strikers have been able to maintain the coaches' base salaries because of a Paycheck Protection Program loan. During competition season, they sometimes receive overtime; no coaches received overtime over the past year because of the lack of play, she said.
"These poor kids have essentially not played high-level soccer since November or December (2019)," she said, prior to the start of competitions last weekend.
She said that if competitions hadn't resumed, or if counties shut the fields back down, members of her organization would be worried.
"We financially would be OK for now, but we can't ask our parents to keep paying for limited practices, especially when other clubs don't follow all the rules," she said.