Pomona community teams resume play after COVID-19 hiatus

By Anel Ceballos-Cadera; April 20, 2021

With COVID-19 restrictions easing on organized sports in California, Pomona residents are excited to kick off the new season with their local teams.

Due to the pandemic, parks, schools and other facilities were closed for competition, bringing many athletes’ seasons to an abrupt end in early 2020. As California continues to gradually reopen, many teams, coaches and staff members are prepared to resume their operations while following COVID-19 guidelines.

Director and coach at ISO Elite Basketball, Kenneth Cabado, is preparing to open the doors to youth teams starting from first through 12th grade.

“Right now we’re getting ready to open back up,” Cabado said. “We have about four or five youth teams and we’ll be following protocols like minimizing the capacity of players, daily temperature checks and sanitizing in between workouts.”

Coach Cabado huddled up with his team during a game. (Courtesy of Kenneth Cabado)

Cabado emphasized his enthusiasm for resuming his program since he feels it does more than teach kids how to play basketball.

“We focus on kids on building confidence,” Cabado said. “We teach them how to socialize not just on the court, but off the court. It builds character with mistakes and losses and obvious wins. And we can teach these kids at a young age that giving up is never an option.”

Pomona’s recreational sports leagues for both youth and adults began their season in March, according to Roberto Curiel, facility and sports rental supervisor at Pomona Parks and Recreation. Recreational leagues must follow mandatory health issued by the County of Los Angeles Public Health.

Protocols for resuming activities state that all participants are required to wear an appropriate face mask covering the nose and mouth at all times and undergo mandatory entry screenings. Other participants, including coaches and support staff, must be tested regularly in order to attend. If participants come into contact with anyone with COVID-19 or contract the virus themselves, they must quarantine for 14 days and receive a negative COVID-19 test result before returning.

Despite numerous safety guidelines in place for local youth sports, local soccer leagues are determined to make space for players of all ages to perfect their skills.

Goals Soccer Center in Pomona is a soccer facility that offers both youth and adult teams a place to practice and play, according to General Manager Jenny Rivera.

Red and Blue teams playing against each other at Goals Pomona Center. (Courtesy of Jenny Rivera)

“I think everyone wanted us to be back because they had no one to play with, especially with the parks closed and the schools closed,” Rivera said. “Now that we’re open, they’re able to come in here and just play soccer with their friends.”

Goals Soccer Center has already allowed men’s soccer leagues to gather and will soon start up the women’s soccer division. It is open Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Students from the Pomona Unified School District play for free Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ernesto Franco, academy coach at Goals Soccer Center, believes the athletic fields’ reopening is not only a great opportunity for children to be active, but to develop character.

“It’s important for kids, especially in that age range, to kind of go somewhere and be productive and just stay off the streets,” Franco said. “They channel their energy toward a positive environment, and it gives kids the opportunity to develop not just as soccer players, but as people too.”

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