Young Calgary athletes ‘really excited’ to get back in action as COVID-19 restrictions eased

Young Calgary athletes ‘really excited’ to get back in action as COVID-19 restrictions eased
WATCH: This is an exciting week for tens of thousands of Calgary kids. With COVID-19 restrictions easing, they can start getting back to playing sports. But as Gil Tucker reports, it’ll mean some major adjustments as young athletes get used to new rules on the ball diamonds and playing fields.

The sky overhead was grey and the downpour was steady in Calgary on Thursday, but a small group of young soccer players saw a ray of sunshine as they kicked the ball around on a soggy field.

“The weather’s not the best, but it’s just great!” 16-year-old player Robson Lamond said.

Soccer leagues and other sports associations just got the word from the City of Calgary that starting on June 1, they can start booking fields for practices.

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“[We will be] seeing kids out there, being active, getting out from behind the [computer] screen,” said Calgary Minor Soccer Association executive director Susan Cress.
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“We know it’s going to look different, we know that COVID[-19] has made everybody come up with a Plan B, so we are on Plan B.”

Soccer coaches will be making sure players maintain a two-metre distance at all times, along with following several other measures.

“We’ll be doing things like asking parents not to drop off and hang around and collect in their small groups,” Cress said. “But [instead], maybe drop [players] and go. We’ll make sure we have proper hand sanitizers and face masks if that’s what’s required.”

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For all minor sports, until restrictions are eased further, the city will only only allow practices, not games.

“[For baseball], it’s difficult to have six feet [of distancing] maintained, especially at home plate, when you have a batter, a catcher and an umpire,” said Calgary Northwest Little League president Bernie Dowhan. “And as well, we can’t share the same baseball.”
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The continuing restrictions will bring challenges during practices, as baseball coaches and players adapt to proposed new rules.

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“One thing, for example, is to have each child have six baseballs with their own name on them,” Dowhan said. “Now, there are some difficulties [with that], because how are you supposed to play catch with your partner to get warmed up?”

Even facing those kinds of challenges, young athletes are eager to get back in action.

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“I’m really excited,” 11-year-old baseball player Taylor Dowhan said. “I just want to go play baseball!”

“Hopefully we can get out and have some good practices,” Lamond said. “And get back together with some of my buddies.”