Hundreds of players have registered for 7 Elite Academy tryouts in Southern Utah, with registrations already 30% higher than last season.
The sessions in Saint George - which start today - are being run under strict social distancing guidelines, as 7 Elite Academy follows 'Yellow' Covid-19 restrictions in the state.
Those guidelines include making sanitizing equipment available to all participants, a ban on gatherings of parents at venues and anyone showing symptoms is told not to attend.
Further tryouts are due to take place in Northern Utah from June 8th, with all current 7EA players to be offered a place in next season's teams.
Daren Woolstenhume, CEO at 7 Elite Academy, said: “It is gratifying that with walk-up registrations still to be counted, we are already far busier than we were last season. That shows the faith that players and parents have in 7 Elite Academy.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have sought to protect players from Covid-19 transmission and that will continue during tryouts. Although Utah's 'Yellow' status means games and contact can now take place, we are being responsible in organizing sessions.
“The build-up to tryouts has naturally been different to previous seasons, due to to Covid-19 restrictions, but our coaches and staff have done a fantastic job of organising sessions. Full respect for player safety is our overall priority.
“As part of our work to protect the mental health of players who may be worrying about having missed out on training sessions during restrictions, we are inviting all of last season's players back for another year.”
7 Elite Academy runs teams for hundreds of players in the United States, United Kingdom and Africa, with regular opportunities for youngsters to train with professional clubs and academies.
The 2020 7 Elite Academy International Tournament in February saw a team of 7EA players from Liverpool play in Nevada, while a few weeks later an 01 Boys team from Saint George trained with academies at Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves.
Anthony Godfrey, Global Technical Director at 7 Elite Academy, said: “Registration for our tryouts is very popular and shows that hundreds of young people want to experience our playing and educational programmes.
“We are determined to set new standards for Covid-19 safety and our responsible approach to social distancing can give parents the assurance that players will be cared for to the highest standards.
“Our players benefit from a series of opportunities to experience different cultures and playing conditions, and that will only grow as we expand as an youth soccer organization.”