July 2, 2020
2020 has been a trying experience for everyone. The club began the year with a strategic plan and then in March the COVID-19 pandemic struck and changed everything. Since then we have learned, adapted and updated our plan for the balance of the year. The biggest difference between the March-April time frame and July-August is that our senior leadership is more educated and prepared now and are able to be proactive rather than reactive. In this fluid climate it is understandable that some have concerns about how the club and the fall season could protentially be affected by another government mandated shutdown.
To ease these concerns, Gulf Coast is sharing our Operational and Contingency Plans for Return to Play and the 2020-2021 seasons that run through May 2021. These plans address the potential threat of cancellation and the COVID-19 Refund/Credit Policy should another shutdown occur and how we will respond to them. One thing we have learned is the need to be nimble, adaptable and proactive and we strive to continue this going forward.
Threat of Cancellation – What we can do to avoid it
While the threat of cancellation is legitimate, we are optimistic we can avoid a full or extended shutdown this fall. Here is how:
- We are fully aware of COVID-19 and are better prepared going in, whereas in March it was unexpectedly thrust upon us 2-3 weeks before games began.
- The Chief Medical Officer for the US Soccer Federation (USSF) has created a 5 Phase Return to Play (RTP) Protocol based on Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines that provides youth soccer clubs a pathway, resources and safeguards for club operations during the pandemic.
- These protocols provide for a gradual loosening and/or tightening of the constraints based on state and local government recommendations and requirements. Anything short of a mandated stay at home order should allow most programs to continue, but the benefit of the phased approach is it makes a shutdown less likely.
- Even if a mandatory stay at home order was issued for a few weeks, we now have a protocol to return to play in a safe and orderly fashion as soon as it is lifted.
- Had these RTP Protocols been in place last spring, it may have prevented the spring cancellation or allowed a condensed summer league.
- Gulf Coast now has a Return to Play Guideline and Operational Plan that incorporates the USSF RTP protocol and provisions for any state or local requirements. This document will be used to train and educate our Board, staff, volunteer’s, and participants.
- Our Guideline and Operational Plan has been reviewed with youth soccer leaders and local authorities for feedback and guidance. We have been assured that if we stay within the guidelines, we should be alright.
- Gulf Coast piloted these protocols during tryouts and street soccer festivals in June. Before practices begin in August all coaches and parents will be educated and trained on the RTP protocols.
The table below summarizes how each program could be affected by each phase:
COVID-19 Credit/Refund Policy 2020-2021
If the club does experience a mandatory shutdown for the remainder of the season, refunds or credit options will be based on the table below. Please read the table and the table notes carefully to ensure your understanding of the policy.
- This COVID-19 Shutdown Refund Policy ONLY APPLIES to a mandatory shutdown related to COVID-19 for the remainder of the fall or spring season.
- This refund policy DOES NOT replace the clubs Standard Refund Policy. All other refund requests will be handled per the standard policy.
- This refund policy will NOT BE GRANTED UPON REQUEST. If the club is unable to provide the balance of the season due to a COVID related shutdown, the club will make the decision to cancel/continue or issue refunds or credits. This is a club decision.
- All programs are not the same, some may be paused for logistical reasons, while others may continue (i.e. 4-5-year old’s vs 16-19-year old’s or Rec vs Competitive/Academy. This is a club decision.
- Gulf Coast is not obligated to shut down our club or season based on what other clubs do. We are an independent club and will make every effort to continue our season, in-house if needed, to meet our obligation to membership. This is a club decision.
- Competitive and Academy Notes:
- Players enroll in our competitive and academy because they are serious players that want to learn, grow, and improve in the game. They prioritize “player development” and understand that training and games are merely tools to achieve the development they desire. We will continue to train using safety protocols even if games are paused.
- We can and will provide these programs with added safety precautions in any scenario except a mandatory stay at home order. Even if a temporary shut-down occurs, we anticipate being able to catch up when the order is lifted. Competitive programs do not end until at least May.
- Due to the training element, competitive and academy programs may not be affected the same as the recreational programs in the table above. A registration fee may be handled similarly to the table, whereas training fees may be prorated if a full cancellation occurs.
- League fees, game fees for Premier teams may also be prorated or credited to the next season if available.
Additional Registration and Spring Soccer Resources: