For the first time in over two months, Vancouver Whitecaps players will be allowed to return to the team’s training facility at UBC today.
It’s Phase 1 of the team’s return to play plan, the team says, and was approved by the provincial public health officer, local health authorities, and infectious disease experts.
Training will look a little different than it did back in early March though of course, as the club outlined a number of health precautions that will be taken.
Players will have the opportunity to conduct “voluntary individual workouts” on two outdoor training fields — except for Yordy Reyna and anyone else forced to quarantine for 14 days after being caught breaking physical distancing rules on the evening news.
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Eight players will be able to train at one time, with no more than one player using a quarter of a pitch.
“We are pleased to move forward with the first phase of return to play in a safe and responsible manner,” said Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster. “We have worked very closely with all the health authorities, and impacted groups, to prepare a strategic and coordinated plan for players and staff to use the training fields.”
Major League Soccer is hoping to resume its season this summer, without fans in the stands, likely in a centralized location.
“This is a positive step forward,” added Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. “In addition to the on-field voluntary individual workouts, we are continuing our micro cycles including full team video workout sessions, individual strengthening, aerobic runs, and bike rides, as well as tactical video review sessions.”
Players won’t have access to locker rooms, while only players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the Whitecaps’ chief medical officer, will have access to team gyms and training rooms.
Safety appears to be a top priority, as the facility will be limited to essential staff only, with sanitization and disinfection procedures for all training equipment and spaces. This includes the disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session, as well as mandatory hand washing before and after training.
A standard screening assessment survey will need to be completed by players prior to every arrival at the training site, with temperature checks once they arrive. Even player vehicles will be physical distancing, as staggered player and staff departures will include designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance.
Players will use personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and once again upon return to the parking lot. Meanwhile, Whitecaps staff will use PPE throughout training, while maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.