"Playing soccer on grass provides numerous benefits in the personal development of the young people we collectively serve,” said Dave Guthrie, Executive Director of the Indiana Soccer Association. Although esports is not a replacement for grass play, Indiana Soccer is committed to maintaining that sense of competition, community connectedness, and fair play for their clubs, players and coaches by providing a healthy and productive alternative during these uncertain times.
Available beginning today, Indiana Soccer, in partnership with GYO Score, is extending a free opportunity to any member club, registered player, and coach to establish a free club and players’ management account on GYO Score’s portal. The GYO club management account will allow their players to play soccer digitally together on the GYO platform through the FIFA series of video games and other titles which may be approved by the club’s coaches.
In addition to providing basic roster management for the club, the platform will allow for the soccer clubs to schedule esports practices, scrimmages, and social events to keep their team together during the shutdown. Parents are also able to sign up to track their child’s play and account, so parents know their children are playing esports with their fellow teammates. Beginning later this month, Champions eLeague will introduce a series of gameplay events structured to mirror the traditional grass league schedule and structure.
"Coronavirus safety and containment has caused most major sports organizations to shut down. Esports provides an opportunity for youth soccer players to compete, interact, and learn with each other from the safety of their own homes,” said Derek Pew, CEO of Harena Data. “We are committed to helping young people use esports as a way to learn and grow and, as an Indiana-based company, we felt we could do our part by offering our platform for free to youth soccer when players could not get on grass".
“It's incredibly crucial that our sports closures do not create barriers of any kind that can harm the development of our youth,” added Guthrie. “We need to encourage youth to continue to be active, social, and foster their collaborative skills through all possible means. This esports opportunity is an excellent way to keep kids connected, playing and safe while we await the return of our traditional leagues.”
As part of the Child Safety Act, access to the portal will be restricted to verified Indiana Soccer members only. Non-members who want to participate can register with the office through a member club. It is imperative that all times this portal is both kid-safe and kid friendly.