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Saskatoon field lacrosse adapting to coronavirus protocols as play resumes

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WATCH: Members of the Saskatoon Field Lacrosse Association are adjusting to some new coronavirus protocols as they return to play after a long layoff – Jul 29, 2020

Field lacrosse season typically begins in the spring in Saskatoon. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, however, the start was pushed back to mid-July this year.

But you won’t hear many complaints.

The Saskatoon Field Lacrosse Association is running a modified program that includes seven weeks of competitive play, giving dozens of young athletes a chance to get back on the field after going several months without organized sports.

“It’s really nice and it’s been really reassuring to be able to see the kids that want to be out here are out here and it’s been nothing but positive and it’s been nothing but support from their families to make it work,” SFLA president Arden Wipf said.

In order to resume play safely, the SFLA has implemented some new protocols under the guidance of the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Quick transition allows box lacrosse to return in Saskatoon

When players arrive at the SFLA fields in Donna Birkmaier Park, they must first go through a brief screening process and have their gloves sanitized. A pathway painted on the grass directs players to the screening station while keeping them appropriately spaced.

After checking in, players are divided into small groups and spread out across two fields that are separated by a ten-metre gap, which allows for two distinct “gatherings.”

Equipment is disinfected after each practice or game and there are no spectators allowed on the sidelines.

But players say the extra hurdles are small price to pay if it means they get to play.

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“I love seeing all the faces. [I] missed some of my friends. Last time I saw some of these people was late August last year so it’s good catching up with everybody in the six feet distance,” 16-year-old midfielder Mario Fortugno said, smiling.
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Long-stick midfielder Garrett Brockmeyer is preparing to play lacrosse at Lake Erie (Ohio) College this fall. He’s glad to have a chance to shake off some rust before heading south.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen but now that it is happening, even though it’s different, it’s good that it’s happening,” he said.

While it may have taken a lot of work behind the scenes to get the season off the ground, Wipf said the effort is worth it considering the prospect of no season at all could do significant damage to the growth of the sport in Saskatoon.

Read more: National Lacrosse League cancels playoffs, turns attention to 2020-21 season

“This year we’ve definitely seen a lot lower registration numbers than we would have hoped but the reality is if there was no modified program whatsoever, if we weren’t able to do this, I really fear what our numbers would be after a whole year away from the sport,” he said.

Instead, he’s hopeful that the SFLA will be able to stage a playoff and crown city champions in different age groups this year. There’s even talk of the possibility of provincial championships taking place, though nothing has been decided yet.

“I really believe that people are in a position to want to support and to make sure that we follow that (Return to Lacrosse plan) to a tee so that we can continue to be out here hopefully right until the end of September,” he said.

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