EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso Health Department recommends that all city league teams suspend games for the next two weeks. The recommendation was issued as a precaution as El Paso sees a high number of active COVID-19 cases in the community.
According to the City of El Paso in the next two weeks, more than 460 sports practices and games were planned for municipal sports leagues. City officials added that those practices and games would involve 4,000 to 7,000 athletes.
The city sent KTSM 9 news a statement from City-County Health Authority Hector Ocaranza.
“Physical activity, especially sports, is important to the overall physical and mental well-being of our residents; however, we cannot ignore the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations we have seen this week. We continue to closely monitor the situation in order to provide further guidance and recommendations to the various entities seeking direction. Today we have advised the Parks & Recreation Department to pause City’s sports league to help the community reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid unnecessary exposure by postponing City sports for two weeks.”Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso County and City Health Authority
The Parks and Recreation Sports division is working to reschedule the games and to give refunds. The City of El Paso said the teams and families were notified of the game cancelations.
However, private sports leagues could be seen playing games on Saturday. The Director of West Texas Rush Soccer said he’s hopeful public parks will remain open so his teams can keep playing.
“If they do decide to shut down access to the public parks and the public playing fields, that’s where it would directly affect us. It would also affect us if they shut down the regular parks because those are the facilities that we use to practice as well,” said Patrick Tapia the Director of West Texas Rush.
Tapia coached multiple teams who played games at Blackie Chesher Park in the Lower Valley on Saturday. Tapia added that he will continue to have his teams play unless the parks are closed again.
“If they shut down the parks I’m going to pretty sad but it’s okay because I can just practice at home,” said Charley Jones a West Texas Rush soccer player.
Some parents have said players have been careful, wearing masks and social distancing.
“The kids, generally Charley’s (daughter) wearing her mask unless she’s on the pitch, and I think it has been a godsend really that they have practice and games because the whole nine months of dealing with the pandemic have been really hard for the kids,” said Margaret Jones, Charley Jones mother.
Coach Tapia added that he wants to keep his teams playing because he is concerned about their physical and mental health.
“What concerns me the most is the health of the children not only physically but also psychologically and that’s one of the concerns that I have is kids need interaction with other kids, they need social interaction with kids their age,” Tapia said.