New Hampshire Soccer Association News

Youth Competitive Update: COVID

Good Afternoon New Hampshire Soccer Association, 

It is now peak soccer season.  The leaves have changed and begun to fall, the air is cool, the morning brings frost-covered lawns, and each game that gets played brings a team a little sense of normal.  We as a community have gone through some extraordinary times since the beginning of this pandemic and at least we have found a way to still play soccer here in the beautiful State of New Hampshire. 

However, I say that cautiously.  The State of New Hampshire has been and continues to have one of the lowest infection rates of COVID-19 in the country.  We would like to see it stay that way and allow for all, children & adults, to continue to play this beautiful game. 

Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Soccer Association (NHSA) released Return-to-Play Protocols with additional information to further the State of New Hampshire’s Safer at Home Guidance When we first returned to the field and teams began to play, the overwhelming support and acceptance of these protocols were understood and acted upon.   

In many cases, the creative thinking and optimistic approach to fulfilling the obligations and requirements within these guidelines were refreshing and inspiring!  Clubs were going above and beyond the minimum standards to keep their players, staff, families, and community safe. 

Unfortunately, we have been seeing, and hearing about, clubs taking a step back, relaxing, and not being as vigilant as they were when we first came back to playing games. This is an area of great concern.  We would not want to lose our ability to play this beautiful game because of the actions of a few. 

We have seen in the past few days alone multiple school districts being forced to go to full remote learning because communities have seen increases in COVID cases.  Ice Skating rinks have been forced to close for two weeks due to COVID, even when plans were in place to minimize this risk.  We DO NOT want this to happen to soccer. 

Please take the time to take a step back and reassess the way the last few weeks have been in your town.  Are you doing the right things to keep everyone who comes to your games safe?  

The following are just some of the expectations for everyone participating in soccer games in the State of New Hampshire under NHSA, based on our interpretation of NHSA Protocols & NH Guidance: 

  • Any person not ACTIVELY playing in the game is wearing a mask. 
    • Coaches are to ALWAYS be wearing a mask while participating (includes pre- & post-game) 
    • Substitutes are to be wearing a mask when on the bench 
  • Spectators (not from the same household), are to be spaced physical distant when watching their participants play 
    • Spectators are to provide extra space away from the touchline to remain physically distant from match officials working their games. 
    • Spectators are to be wearing masks while at their matches 
  • Match officials are always to be wearing masks, except when ACTIVELY officiating the match in which they are assigned to. 
  • Bench areas are to be cleaned and sanitized by the host site prior to every match. 

We ask that you take the time to do an assessment of your club, team, or association regarding their operating procedures.  These are the minimum expectations set for the membership of NHSA. These expectations allow us to ensure we are within the States Guidelines so we can continue to operate.    

As a reminder, the match officials, can and will, abandon matches because they are witnessing clubs, teams, coaches, not following these simple guidelines.  The New Hampshire Soccer League will consider games abandoned due to refusal to follow these protocols and guidelines as a “forfeit”.  Due to this, per the NHSL League guidelines, each forfeit will incur a $300 fine. 

Please help us be vigilant and allow this beautiful game to continue to be played here in New Hampshire. We understand that this may be seen as an inconvenience for some, but for the sake of the game, we must keep our standards high and our expectations in check. The last thing we want to see is that the game be unavailable to all because of a few. 

Thank you for your time and continued support of the game. We know that everyone is facing different challenges and that each of our members has their own standards they must meet as well.  We simply are requiring that these simple requests be met and that all members understand what is at stake, as well as the consequences, for not maintaining the appropriate level of care to the standards. 

For the Good of the Game, 

Vice President, Youth Competitive Soccer 

New Hampshire Soccer Association  

 

CC: NHSA Membership 

CC: NHSL Registered Referees 

CC: NHSA Executive Board 

CC: NHSL League Director 

Youth Competitive Soccer Update: Bench Decorum

Good Evening New Hampshire Soccer Association,

The leaves are changing, the air is getting cooler, and the fields are starting to feel like home again. It is now fall in New Hampshire.  Many leagues are in full swing and are a few weeks into their regular season.  It is great to be a soccer player in our state.  We are incredibly lucky to be in the position to allow our youth and adults the opportunity to continue playing this beautiful game.

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Cullen Madden and I currently serve on the New Hampshire Soccer Association Executive Board as the Vice President of Youth Competitive Soccer. I oversee the state’s youth competitive landscape. I am here to be a voice for clubs, leagues, and voice on the youth side of the game at the national level.  I take great pride in the fact that New Hampshire has a strong and growing foundation for youth soccer here in the state with many clubs, teams, and members taking it upon themselves to develop in all aspects of the game.

While many clubs and teams are doing exceptionally well, there have been a few issues that have arisen over the past couple weeks that I would like to address globally so we can finish this fall season well.

Over the first few weeks of the season, our largest issue, unfortunately, has been bench decorum of team officials. With numerous disciplinary hearings already this season, I must remind our members that US Youth Soccer and the New Hampshire Soccer Association have zero-tolerance policies in place and that we take this seriously as no member, in any capacity, should be abused verbally or physically in this beautiful game.  When it does happen however, we deal with each instance accordingly.

We fully understand that this beautiful game is fueled with passion but when passion turns into something more, something that brings the game into disrepute, something that in most cases embarrass our children, I assure you, we will hear about it and it will be dealt with quickly as there is no place for this behavior in our game.

It is obvious that this is not only a New Hampshire problem.  Poor bench decorum has been a systemic problem within the game for as long as the game has been played.  This is why in July of 2019, The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) drastically changed the Laws of the Game in hopes of eradicating the poor behavior from the game.  Through these changes, The IFAB empowered referees to deal with poor behavior by use of clear and direct instructions. There are now levels of discipline clearly stated for team officials when dealing with bench decorum.

As this fall is the first time many teams have played any level of soccer since these changes were fully adopted, many clubs & coaches have reached out as they have received discipline in the form of yellow and red cards due to their actions. While I wish this wasn’t the case, I think we all know there would be a learning curve from all participants. I must remind our members that the responsibility is on themselves to ensure they are current on the Laws of the Game as well as the application or interpretations that come with these law changes.  The state provides numerous resources to its members prior to each season to assist with this and yet many have not taken advantage of them.

All referees are required to attend training annually to ensure the information is disseminated to them.  This unfortunately is not the case for players or coaches.  It is obvious due to the reports we have been receiving that many have not taken the time to read through the current changes from the past two years. There were many drastic changes that clubs, teams, coaches, and players are now having to deal with as a consequence of not staying current.

I urge each of you to take the time to read through the Laws of the Game.  Ignorance of the Laws of the Game is not a reason for you, the member to not receive disciplinary action.  In many cases, what we are seeing this season is that clubs are having to learn these new Law Changes first hand after they have received disciplinary action (often with fine attached) and ask for it to be adjudicated because “it’s the first time” or “we didn’t know”. These are not acceptable reasons for an appeal. As you will see, it is noticeably clear cut in terms of what level of bench decorum receives what level of disciplinary action.

It is my hope that our members take this as an opportunity to brush up on the Laws of the Game. It is unfortunate that I must send this email as many members are doing exceptional and are truly leading by example at all levels of the game.

I wish you all the best of luck and continued health for the rest of the season.

 

RESOURCES:

For the Good of the Game,


Cullen Madden
Vice President: Youth Competitive Soccer
VPYouthComp@SoccerNH.org
603.305.7899

Fall Kick Off Meeting Link

Fall Jamboree Schedule Found HERE

The Jamboree Schedule has been completed, but the gotsport system is not allowing me to publish the page… so CLICK HERE to see the schedule.  Any questions, email League Director at director@nhsoccerleague.com.

NHSL Fall Preliminary Divisions Released

The fall divisions were released on Friday August 14th.  I wanted to post the link here as well in case anyone missed it.

 

Ryan

 

https://system.gotsport.com/org_event/events/954/teams?showall=groups