Coronavirus concerns: Pinellas County soccer coach calling ‘foul play’ on private businesses opening

Coronavirus

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – Some Tampa Bay area soccer players are taking to the field again soon, but a Pinellas County Youth Coach claims it could put the players and the whole game at risk.

“It’s just a bit concerning if they are playing contact soccer and small-sided games, 4 vs. 4 and 5 vs. 5 games,” said Kai Velmer, Soccer Operations Director for Pinellas County United Soccer Club.


WHAT TO KNOW:

  • Florida is reporting 85,926 cases and 3,061 deaths
  • Florida in Phase Two of reopening
  • Cases have spiked in past week, Gov. DeSantis says due to increased testing

Velmer said he’s been involved in youth soccer for 30 years.

“This is all brand new to me. We’ve seen a lot of things in youth soccer but nothing like shutdown and pandemic,” said Velmer.

He said he currently helps runs the soccer operations for more than 800 kids with the Pinellas County United Soccer Club and that he’s a director with the Florida Youth Soccer Association.

Their youth games are currently on hold for the moment.

He said under the Florida Youth Soccer Association rules that their leagues aren’t allowed to return until phase 3 of the state re-opening. Velmer said he doesn’t understand how private soccer businesses, like Fast5 in Largo and B-T Sports Academy in Pinellas Park, can be open.

“It’s not even about being fair, is it safe? I don’t know If the counties and states are holding us to a certain standard why aren’t the businesses held to a certain standard?”asked Velmer.

8 On Your Side called both businesses to get their side of the story and wanted to know if they were taking special precautions.

BT Sports Academy texted us back Monday afternoon saying they couldn’t talk at the moment. As of Monday night we still hadn’t heard back.

The manager of Fast5 said he didn’t want to go on camera but told us they are in compliance with regulations, and that they had emails from local government officials to support their re-opening. 8 On Your Side asked to see the e-mails but were told no.

“It’s just a bit concerning,” said Velmer. “These businesses say they’re open with social distancing guidelines but they still have from what I can tell, contact soccer.”

The manager of Fast5 told 8 On Your Side that because everyone has an opinion about coronavirus and re-openings, they don’t want to be involved in what they consider to be “drama.”

As for Velmer, he said he hopes to have his youth players kids back on the field by mid-June.

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