BONNYVILLE - Sports in Bonnyville may be gearing up after getting the go-ahead, but the summer leagues won't look the same as they normally do.
Phase two of Alberta's relaunch started June 12, and included sports teams being able to hit the field with restrictions in place to ensure safety for athletes.
For many local clubs such as the Bonnyville Soccer Association, who typically sees athletes hit the field from May until August, that means a very different season.
President Jose Teixeira noted the protocols handed down by the Alberta Soccer Association haven’t been updated just yet and make it unrealistic for their players to practice, such as soccer players not being able to touch a ball with their hands while they’re on the field.
“It’s out there that we can return to practice, but it’s not practical.”
Tournament director Cheri Wolgein added, “We’re still waiting for the next phase of return to soccer to happen, which we hope will be reflective of the provincial changes and some of those social distancing guidelines to be allowed to have more sport cohorts with not having to have so much social distancing but maintaining the Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines.”
In order to get kids back onto the soccer pitches, Wolgein said they’ll need to get creative.
“This is new territory for all of us, and we’re looking for the best way to get the kids out there,” she stated. “We definitely need do need to think outside the box from what conventional soccer has been in the past, but that’s what we’re developing now is once we get those Alberta Soccer guidelines in our hands, then that’s going to show us how we can be enabled to fit this into the Bonnyville soccer regime.”
Bonnyville Minor Ball, who has a similar season to soccer, are also trying to figure out what their program is going to look like.
President Travis Farrer said they’re hoping to start competitive teams the week of June 22, and have a survey out to their house league parents to see if there’s an interest in a modified league.
“Basically, the plan would be to offer some camps, see what the interest is like as the government begins to open up,” he explained, adding there’s a possibility of some game play in the coming weeks.
“Hopefully, it will get to the point where it’s safe enough to go out and play some tournaments away from the Bonnyville area.”
The Lakeland Minor Ball league has been put on hold for now, but Farrer said there’s still hope that some games may happen toward the end of summer.
“I think as the government continues to lift restrictions, if the interest is there by the surrounding associations, they would likely try to do a mini fall season, but that’s yet to be determined.”
In order to get their athletes back into the gym, Bonnyville’s Premier Academy Cheerleading and Tumbling is offering unlimited tumbling passes and organizing a day camp for July to see how it goes.
In order to keep everyone safe, owner and coach Melissa Kirkendall said they’re adhering to strict protocols from the province.
“We sanitize and wash hands when we come through the door, athletes aren’t allowed to bring in anything other than a water bottle with them. We keep our athletes six feet apart unless they’re a team and then they can be a cohort,” she stated.
The coaches at Premier Academy are trying to keep everything as normal as possible, but won’t be spotting during a class.
“If an athlete was trying a new skill, a coach would spot them,” detailed Kirkendall. “A coach would put their hands on the athlete while they were trying that new skill, whereas now we’re just running skills and safe drills to ensure that the athletes are staying safe.”
Teams with the Bonnyville Amateur Football Association (BAFA) are also permitted to have their players participate in drills with no contact.
According to BAFA president Kevin Sartain, there was discussion of a spring league happening that would see the Bonnyville teams playing one another but it didn’t pan out.
“We just decided that the spring league is cancelled altogether, and there might be some skills stuff that we’re going to do with players throughout the summer.”
There’s still an issue facing the BAFA if social distancing measures are in place by the time their fall season rolls around. Football is a contact sport, and not being able to do that would prevent the local groups from moving ahead.
“We could have some issues for the league because it’s tackle football. We have to have contact, so we’ve got to be able to have contact allowed. If that happens, the season should go forward and we’re not too worried,” Sartain expressed. “We’ve still got a couple of months before we even do our registration, so we’ve still got time.”