The ‘new normality’ is well underway at the Villarreal CF Academy. After several months of sporting inactivity, the pitches at the Villarreal CF training ground are filling up again every afternoon and welcoming the 30 youth teams that make up the Yellows Academy. To face the pandemic head on and effectively, the Yellows have developed a comprehensive protocol to stop the spread of the virus and be able to continue to participate in sporting activity safely.
In compliance with current regulations, the use of the mask for coaches and players is mandatory at the Villarreal CF training ground. The latter provided they are not on the pitch and performing physical activity. On the benches and in transit areas, players must keep a safe distance and always wear a mask.
To avoid crowds, the club has limited access to the training ground only and exclusively for players and coaches. Before training, both players and coaches take their temperature and apply hand sanitiser. In addition, a check-in and check-out area has been marked at the training ground: the players enter the facility through the door adjacent to the Center Esportiu Municipal and leave via Miralcamp street.
As if that weren’t enough, upon entering the training ground, up to six arrival zones have been marked, so that different teams do not mix with each other. In order to enforce distance, the club has decided to stagger training start times. Changing rooms and showers are also not available. As far as possible, players come to training already changed and coaches give their team talks in outdoor spaces.
Disinfection of materials is another measure that Villarreal CF has taken to minimise the risk of contagion. Coaches, in addition to applying hand sanitiser, also carry disinfectant spray at all times which they apply to balls, cones, bibs and the rest of their equipment used in training sessions.
To monitor that the protocol is being complied with at all times, Villarreal CF has appointed a COVID-19 protocol manager for youth football, Sebi Holerga, who has been a coach for many years at the Yellows Academy. Holerga manages access lists to the facilities and ensures that the regulations are always respected. He is also the person who acts as club contact if an incident occurs.
With these strict regulations, Villarreal CF has kicked off what has been a very atypical season for its youth sides, having undergone many changes in the structure and composition of its leagues, as well as a preventive way of combating COVID-19.