There will be some form of organized soccer in Niagara-on-the-Lake this summer, promises NOTL Soccer Club president Ted VandeKaay. What form the sport takes, though, depends on a few factors.
Last Friday, the board of directors of the club announced they had made the difficult decision to cancel plans for “soccer as usual” for 2020.
In an email to all members in the club’s database, the board explained that, with all town facilities closed until at least the end of June, and with no idea as to when current physical distancing rules will be lifted, the responsible decision was to cancel the season and make alternate plans.
This weekend would have been the kick-off festival for house league soccer, after moving the start from the Victoria Day weekend and the Virgil Stampede last year. With the parks closed until at least July 1, and soccer usually ending the last Saturday in August, that would have left only seven weeks for house league play.
In addition, on May 11, the Ontario Soccer Association, an organization to which NOTL Soccer belongs, announced all sanctioned in-person soccer events and activities for the month of June were cancelled or postponed.
The board had previously made the difficult decision to postpone its equipment order this year. With uncertainty as to when restrictions would be lifted, it seemed to be the financially responsible thing to do. As well, with so many businesses feeling the financial pinch under the current situation, the board felt the timing was wrong to approach them for donations.
When Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province, it was clear sports at all levels would be the last item to get back to some semblance of normal. And of course, adds VanderKaay, “we still have no idea what the ‘new normal’ will be.”
VanderKaay says the club plans to wait for an announcement by the provincial government as to when and how kids can get back onto the fields. The email says, “assuming that this is allowed some time this summer, we are committed to bringing you a ‘shortened’ version of a soccer season. This will focus on skills, but culminate in some informal games between appropriate age groups.”
In the meantime, the summer soccer camp for ages six to 14, scheduled for August 10 through 14, is still going ahead as planned. Registration is open online for the camp.
The club has begun issuing refunds for all those who have already registered for the 2020 soccer season.
Says VanderKaay, “we thank everyone for your understanding, and your ongoing support of soccer in NOTL. We trust that you are in this with us, as we make this difficult decision in an effort to protect our children as well as those deemed most vulnerable to COVID-19.”
He urges residents to continue to monitor the club’s website, notlsoccer.ca, for new information in the coming weeks.