By Michael Lewis
Rocco Avallone has plenty on his plate and challenges as the new president of the Long Island Soccer Football League.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic Avallone and the board want to kick off the 2020-21 season on Sept. 27 while allowing league teams based in Queens and Brooklyn to play on Long Island fields.
The LISFL has had several board meetings addressing those challenges.
“One of the key concerns we have some of the teams that play in the Long Island soccer football league come from Queens, and Brooklyn,” Avallone said Thursday. “Those teams have lost their fields for the time being because the city isn’t giving out any permits. So whoever was playing at Randall’s Island, or Flushing Meadow Park can’t get their field permits until at the earliest now We’re told late fall, at the end of October. In the meantime, we have been able to arrange fields for those teams through the help of people on the board.”
LISFL board member Yuri Fishman has done much of the behind the scenes work finding fields for the Brooklyn and Queens teams, with a twist.
“But people are going to have to make some sacrifices as to when they’re going to play, what time they’re going to play,” Avallone said.
It could be mid-week, it could be Saturday, and it could be Sunday.
“Saturday, midweek, we have plenty of fields available,” Avallone said. “Sundays, we have fields but we may not have enough for those teams so they may have to go to a Saturday schedule for a couple of weeks until New York City fields open up. But they will, we will be able to provide fields for those teams, which is something we’re proud of. I know some of the other leagues in the area cannot do that.”
The LISFL plans to follow safety regulations during the fall season.
“Hopefully, we will not have to stop the season once we started,” Avallone said. “We do have measures in place based on the CDC and New York State recommendations.”
The league plans to have hand sanitizer stations at all fields, so players and coaches can clean their hands once they leave the field. The LISFL also will remind players on the bench to wear masks and keep their distance from each other.
“Touching the soccer ball, touching another player, that’s always something very important and obviously distance when you’re on the bench,” Avallone said. “Stay away from your teammates, six feet apart. Same things with coaches and even have the home teams or the away teams must inform their fans that they need to wear a mask and keep a distance.
“We all are going to have to have somebody from the league present at the games, especially the Massapequa fields to make sure that these recommendations are followed. And if they’re not followed and we are told about the failure to follow the recommendations, all the teams are told that they will be fined. The referees have been told that they see something to mark it on their reports, when they give it to the league.”
Fines will be small at first but if teams and clubs continue to not follow regulations and recommendations, the sanctions will increase.
“We’re taking this very serious,” Avallone said.
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