'Enjoy the game you love' - that's the message for players as 7 Elite Academy tryouts for the 2020/21 season continue in Utah next week.
7 Elite Academy's first round of tryouts in Southern Utah saw a 30% rise in attendees, as youth soccer resumed under 'Yellow' Covid-19 restrictions.
Those sessions will take place in the Salt Lake County, Utah County and Northern Utah areas from June 8th, with expectations of a further expansion in numbers across teams.
And although the organization is continuing with additional social distancing measures to ensure player safety, Global Technical Director Anthony Godfrey is urging youngsters to enjoy the return to soccer.
He said: “When players get back on the pitch, they should enjoy the game they love. The game that the US has sanctioned, to go back opposed, means they can go back to the game they played before the pandemic started.
“Where the pandemic has ripped away the game from us all for the last three months, at every level imaginable, I would like to think players, parents, staff, myself included, have found a deeper love for the game. That's because it was taken away from us for quite a while.
“I want everyone to come back with a new level of passion for the game and love for the game. So come back, embrace the game and enjoy being on the ball. Be creative, take risks. All the principles we talk about with players every day in training sessions are no different.
“It's not a different game from what it was before the pandemic so come back, get on the pitch and enjoy it. Before and after sessions just use common sense and respect safety measures set by the government, but also those set by 7 Elite Academy.”
A responsible approach to Covid-19 social distancing has been one of the hallmarks of this year's 7 Elite Academy tryouts.
The organization has invested heavily to create a safe environment when players are welcomed back to soccer.
Godfrey added: “With the United States now being back in opposed training, there's still guidelines on what happens before and after practice and tryouts, in terms of social distancing, PPE and disinfecting equipment that gets used.
“What I would say for the players and parents is just to encourage common sense, such as keeping your distance and if you've got your own disinfectant that's great. If not, then we have invested a lot in PPE and disinfectant equipment, so if you haven't brought anything don't worry.
“We want to make sure we're doing whatever we can to reduce the risk. Whatever measures are out there, they aren't going to completely stop the risk of coming into contact with Covid-19. All we can possibly do is put the best measures in place to do whatever we can to reduce the risk as much as possible.”
7 Elite Academy offers regular opportunities for youngsters to work with high-profile players from across the world, including former England stars Stephen Warnock and James Milner.
Those opportunities extend to coaching staff, who receive masterclass sessions with leading coach educators.
“We bring in some of the top coaching educators from around the world into our academy to support our learning growth,” Godfrey added.
“With all that in mind, there is only one person who should prosper from everything being delivered to a high standard and that is the player.
“We have got to bolster everything we do every single day to make sure the player improves because of it all.”