Sports and COVID: the headaches of the youth activity

Amateur youth sports are paying a high price for the post-COVID-19 recovery, squeezed between lack of money and too many regulations to respect. The restart of the sports activities has now begun, but few seem worried about the issue

On a usual seasonal routine, September is the month of returns. People retreat to the city, back to work and school; therefore, sports activities for all ages resume as well. In this peculiar 2020 with COVID-19 pandemic turning our lives upside down, it seems more complicated than usual to search for a delicate balance between the need to return to normality and the implementation of social containment and distancing measures. 

According to the CONI-FSN-DSA 2017 Report, in Italy there are 69.663 clubs and over 4 million registered athletes currently at risk of suffering from this situation. Not only football but also basketball, volleyball, skating, martial arts, boxing, and many other sports face a complex puzzle to ensure regular activity while complying with health regulations. Every level of amateur activity, also part of a healthy and educational routine, might be in jeopardy. 

Many Italian sports clubs rely on the precarious support of private contributions from sponsorships by companies or patrons. In Italy, the economic crisis is growing. These assets might be among the first to be affected, involving many volunteers who devote part of their leisure time to these clubs. Also, the families' financial constraints could lead to hard decisions on whether the sports practice of their children is still affordable or not.

Meantime, the modality of the school restart is still to be completely defined, apart from statements from the Minister of Education and some journalistic rumours. Schools gyms or youth centres are often used also for amateur sports activities: will these facilities still be allowed for non-educational purposes? What prices will these clubs have to pay to maintain quota numbers or manage the costs increase for sanitization procedures?  

Italian amateur sport is in danger of being swept away by a tsunami of epochal proportions, as the former Italian National Volleyball coach Mauro Berruto said. In the last few months, professional sport has restarted, coming out of the impasse, while nobody seems to care about amateur and youth sports. Millions of young people are waiting to play the sport they love, while Cristiano Ronaldo is back playing on the football pitch: this situation needs to be settled. The future of our children is at stake, not only of Italian sport.  

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