Sports leagues across Ontario will be relieved to start their season Wednesday when the province moves into Step 2 of the reopening plan, but for the Orillia and District Soccer Club (ODSC), it’s probably “too little, too late.”
“We have cancelled our house-league program again this year because the number of individuals allowed on a full-sized soccer field is only 20,” said board member John Copp, who noted it takes 22 players to play a normal soccer game.
“Playing with restrictions makes it difficult to have younger children staying away from each other, staying three meters apart and not touching each other. We just felt it was going to be too cumbersome to try and police that while keeping everybody safe.”
He said some players, coaches and parents were upset with the ODSC’s decision.
“There was a little bit of disappointment expressed, which is understandable. Everybody has different thresholds for risk,” he said.
In April, the ODSC had 350 players registered for the 2021 season. Copp said the organization hasn’t given up all hope on providing some sort of programming for at least some of those who wanted to play soccer this summer.
“It remains to be seen if we will be doing anything else with our older players, ages 12 and up. We will see if there is any interest or any taste for it. That’s where we are at right now.”
The City of Orillia hasn’t even given the ODSC permission to start training yet.
“They would like to see the exact lettering of the document from the provincial government as to what can happen on June 30, so they have asked for our patience until next week sometime,” Copp said.
“We have permits, we are ready to use the fields, but we can’t tell people how we are going to use the fields and what we are going to have available on those fields until after June 30.”
Ideally, Copp said, the ODSC would like to provide its 50 to 60 rep players who are registered a chance to start training, which would get started in early July.
“When that happens, the board will assemble at Rotary Place or wherever they are practising and kind of soak it in for a few minutes and enjoy it,” he said.
However, it’s doubtful the ODSC could pull of a “meaningful” season this late into the summer.
“If there are going to be games, even within our own club, they won’t happen until the end of July, when we get to the third step of reopening,” Copp said.
“The (health unit) thinks soccer is a contact sport, which seems a little farcical when you have 22 people on a 100-by-50-metre area. However, because of the physical exertion, exhalation and running toward and beside each other, I think that’s where the concern comes from when you look at it from a medical perspective.”