There will be football in Mankato this fall.
Mankato North Mankato Youth Football, which organizes the sport for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh graders, has decided to move forward with a six-week league, with practice starting September 8 and the first games. September 8. 12. Registrations will open on Saturday.
“The easiest way would have been to shut it down,” said Dennis Hood, director of the MNMYF. âA lot of time has been spent putting protocols in place and many people have stepped up to make this happen. Other sports for young people are practiced safely.
“Are there any risks? Sure. Do the children want to play? Undoubtedly.”
Last season there were over 600 players in the Youth Football Association, but that included players from St. Peter, St. Clair, Blue Earth and Fairmont. This season, the association will be limited to District 77 players only as one of the safety protocols to prevent the community spread of COVID-19.
The MNMYF had to develop a health and safety plan for its coaches and athletes, which was approved by the Minnesota Department of Health. Board member Ben McAninch has reached out to some contacts with the Lake Minnetonka Area Youth Football Association to ask about safety protocols. The youth committee took this plan, made some adjustments, and had it checked by national and state experts.
âA lot of people have worked hard to come up with this plan,â McAninch said. âWe contacted the coaches to see if we could apply these rules. We understand that colleges and high schools in Minnesota do not play. “
There will be temperature controls and social distancing during practices and games. Teams will be smaller and there will be more time between matches, without gathering on the pitch after matches. There will be a minimum of contact during practice. Additional coaches will be added to help with health and safety checks.
“But on match days it will be full contact,” Hood said. âWe are either going to be seen as lucky or as stupid. I hope it’s not the latter.
MNMYF made the decision to continue the season last week, but had to find different grounds. The association normally plays its matches, mainly on Saturday mornings, at South Central College and Mankato East. This season, MNMYF will play its fifth, sixth and seventh year games at Spring Lake Park and the fourth year games at Webster Park. There will be no travel for the seventh year team.
Hood said the association was ready to shut down the season if there were any health concerns. If infection rates in the community rise, forcing schools to follow distance education only, football games will stop.
McAninch said he was aware some people would wonder why youth football teams can play when high schools and colleges have decided to wait. He said there would be no bus rides, locker rooms or post-game gatherings, but ultimately it is up to each family to decide whether playing football is safe for young people. If there are not enough registered players, there will be no football this fall.
âThings are pretty fluid,â he said. âIt’s a voluntary activity. If people don’t like what they see or think it’s safe, they won’t participate. But our job is to make it as safe as possible. “
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.