Coronavirus: Saskatchewan football programs prepare for eventual return

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier announces Phase ‘4.1’ of reopen plan
WATCH: (June 16, 2020) Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced on Tuesday that Phase 4.1 of the province’s reopening plan would begin June 22, allowing for some outdoor sports such as soccer to begin, the opening of outdoor pools and spray pads, and child and youth day camps can start. It will also see the limit on indoor gatherings be expanded to 30 people, as long as physical distancing measures are in place. Moe also advised he expects all reopening dates announced by end of June.

When outdoor sports and activities are given the green light in Phase 4.1 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan to go ahead on Monday, June 22, the resumption will be welcome by many.

For those in the football community, some will have to wait for a full return to the field, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

“Now the real work begins,” said Mike Thomas, Football Sask director of football operations.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Phase ‘4.1’ kicks off June 22 as one new case announced in Saskatchewan

Football Sask has been preparing a document on what a return to football looks like for its members, which it is set to release to athletes and parents on Monday.

However, it doesn’t mean they can hit the ground running just yet.

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“It definitely won’t be all systems go on Monday,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of different things that need to come about from this.

“We really want to make sure that we really nail these things on the head properly when it is released. Then the players and the teams know what they are able to do when that time is appropriate for them.”

The many different components of football make a return to the sports a little more difficult than most. Flag football activities can resume on Monday, but practices will consist of non-contact drills. And they’ll need to wait a few more weeks to play games.

Tackle football, on the other hand, will wait until the fall.

“We’re still working to ensure our tackle members know that we’re there for them and we’re planning to have things in place for them when football is resuming,” Thomas said.

“We’ve definitely gotten a bevvy of ideas and have a plan in place of how that will look for them.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan outdoor sports prep for restricted seasons, some swim clubs left without lanes

That includes Regina Minor Football, which is targeting Aug. 4 as a potential return to practice date, with non-contact drills. However, that date could be pushed back farther if other sports don’t see a successful return.

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“I think we’re pretty happy to know that we’re going to be starting at the same time we always do,” said Len Antonini, Regina Minor Football executive director. “Unless (sports like) soccer and basketball start earlier and they find that you can’t do any of it.”

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan health officials actively engaged with Hutterite community after COVID-19 outbreak declared
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan health officials actively engaged with Hutterite community after COVID-19 outbreak declared

And when tackle football is given the green light, there will be physical distancing restrictions in place due to COVID-19, which could change how the game looks, but not necessarily how it’s played.

“If we can do it safely, we would love to get back to the game and I think that we’re in a pretty good position here in Saskatchewan, but we’ve got to watch too,” Antonini said.

“Teams understand and know that and are realizing that might be the harsh reality here for 2020,” Thomas added. “But I think they and the players are OK with that because they at least know that there would be something for them.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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