100 Mile House Soccer Association is back this spring with a brand new game plan.
After over a year of being unable to operate, the association started accepting registrations for its 2021 season as of Friday, March 19, either online or in-person at the South Cariboo Rec Centre. However, only practices are planned for this season until health regulations relax and allow team sports again.
Werner Heine, the association’s president, said while it’s unfortunate they can’t play games, they’re just happy to be able to offer something for the youth to do outside. The coaches will be focusing on players’ individual skill development, which will allow players to stay socially distant.
“We just hope that going forward now people will just be positive and appreciate we’re trying to put something on, even though it’s not the regular game scenario. We will have to see how people feel just practicing,” Heine said. “We feel good about it and we’re excited to do it.”
Putting together the Return to Play plan to make this happen was a lot of work, Heine said. Each sport’s plan is different and 100 Mile had to make sure its plan fell under the parameters of B.C. Soccer and the provincial government’s guidelines.
The plan includes staggering practice times so that different age groups don’t intermingle, a drop-off plan into a designated area, and limiting players, coaches and helpers on the soccer field to only 50. 100 Mile House has four soccer fields, which means that without staggered practice times, they could have 200 players there at any given time. There is only one gate players can use to access the fields.
Parents are asked to drop a player off at the field and then drive to the parking lot, as no spectators are allowed at this time. The one exception is for teams under the age of eight as, due to their age, it would be difficult for a coach to keep all those players socially distant, so parents are allowed on the field as assistants.
“We give every kid their own ball, so they’re responsible for that one and do individual skill training in their square. There is passing and such they can do. Only the ball goes over to the other box, but they do that now with a common ball,” Heine said, adding that everything is sanitized after use.
After the practice is complete, the coach will walk his team to the parking lot where there will be an identified pick-up area. People who walk to practice need to arrive at the same time as everyone else, not 20 minutes before.
“In theory, we got it worked out, now we have to see how it goes in practice,” Heine remarked with a laugh.
Heine hopes they will be able to play games by the end of the season but said he expects that it’s unlikely.
“If we get anywhere near our usual number of 300 I would think it would be a success. But we view it as a success even if only 100 kids come.”
Rates have gone up by five dollars this year, due to the cost of setting up the online registration, and now stands at $95 for U6 and $145 for all other age groups. The season begins on May 1, as usual, with a summer break over July and August followed by more playing in September. Anyone looking for more information can contact the association via its Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.