WINNIPEG -- With the province's soccer season starting up, the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA) has released its guidelines for playing the game while staying safe and healthy.

This week, the MSA released a phased plan to start playing soccer starting June 17.

"We can't hurry this, we have to be patient. I know that everybody wants to get back on the field. We all want to do that, but we have to do it in a very safe environment," said Héctor O. Vergara, the executive director of MSA.

"It is great to see the sport come back, but again I remind everyone – the most important thing about this is we have to be safe when we do it.

The plan outlines a three-stage approach that follows provincial public health orders.

He said the first stage is about getting players back on the field practicing with the ball, while following physical distancing guidelines.

The guidelines say all players, coaches, and volunteers must self-assess before each scheduled activity using the online COVID-19 screening tool. Anyone showing symptoms will not be permitted to participate or be present at scheduled activities.

Coaches are allowed to wear masks, and the equipment must be sanitized before and after each game.

The MSA said travel is not allowed outside Manitoba for events or competitions. During the first two stages of the plan, teams must stay within their own communities, though the guidelines say teams will be allowed to travel within Manitoba during stage three.

"We don't have a timeline for stage two and three, because we don't know how well we are going to do in stage one," said Vergara. "It is very, very important to remember that we are doing all this to make sure it is safe for participants – that is the players, the coaches, the volunteers that are involved in this sport."

The full guidelines can be found on the MSA website.