BFA finalizing phased “return-to-play” plans

Anya James, BFA Executive Vice President

The Bahamas Football Association (BFA) is hoping to get the ball rolling for the sport of soccer as soon as this week. 

On June 23, the national federation for soccer had a draft presented for a phased reopening. Minor details of that draft were presented by Executive Vice President Anya James this past Thursday, July 2 as soccer equipment items were presented to local soccer associations.

A date to activate soccer activity was not confirmed but James informed that the federation was in the process of finalizing the document and upon completion, it would be shared with stakeholders.

“We held a zoom meeting with a lot of our stakeholders and our executive team (BFA) to present a draft of our plans to re-engage our players and coaches into the game of football. We did this in conjunction with the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and also, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture. 

“We’ve gotten some feedback and we’re in the process of incorporating the changes of ideas into the document. As soon the document is finalized it will be sent out to the stakeholders, who will in turn share it with the coaches, clubs and players,” James said.

Chief among the details shared was the continued practice of social distancing. The idea is to host smaller competitions and encourage persons to have their own equipment. 

“Some of the issues were standard and some of the suggestions and protocols were standard protocols where we continue to encourage social distancing. Initially we’re going to start with small side games. We’ll encourage everyone to bring their own equipment, encourage the sanitizing and disinfecting of all areas and equipment.

“I know it’s a new normal but it’s something all of us will have to do to ensure that we stay COVID-19 free.

“The hardest part, as we discussed, will be getting the little kids out and keeping them safe. They’ve been in the house this whole time and they’re excited and will have a ton of energy and want to play. We’re going to have to focus on the little children to emphasize social distancing, sanitizing and not touching their faces,” added James.

James furthered that clubs will also be urged to establish their own safety protocols as far as practices, and training sessions and control the flow of players coming in and out of facilities, are concerned. Clubs must also keep a record of players coming in and out, in the event contact tracing would be needed if a case/s arise. 

“We’re also encouraging the clubs to have their own protocols as far as practices and training sessions. You’ll basically have to control the flow of players coming into the facility, taking names and contact tracing as well, in case there’s an issue, you will know and contact your clubs and coaches immediately,” said James.

As far as national teams competing internationally, she stated the association getting to that point will rely a lot on the various associations and clubs’ compliance with the protocols.

“Also, in the draft document we had a few dates. Wishful hoping, we’ve opened our borders to international travel now. A lot of us getting to phase five where we can compete internationally is going to rely on our compliance, as well as what’s going on in the rest of the world.

“We encourage you to keep your kids and players engaged. A lot of clubs have online training sessions and they encourage the players to record their training and the coaches would give their feedback. 

“This is a partnership and wherever the BFA can assist if as a club you feel as though you don’t want to recreate the wheel, we can assist in establishing your protocols. And this is a floating document, so there would be changes and God forbid if there is an outbreak, we would have to go back to phase one. We’re all looking forward to getting things going and getting the best sport going again,” James concluded. 

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