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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan sports organizations turn to fundraising amid current restrictions

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WATCH: Some Saskatchewan sports organizations are turning to fundraising in order to keep their doors open amid current COVID-19 restrictions – Jan 20, 2021

Some Saskatchewan sports organizations are turning to fundraising in order to keep their doors open amid current COVID-19 restrictions.

Prior to the pandemic, owner of CrossCourt Badminton, Laurie Ruecker, says the courts would typically be packed with players.

“We offer pickleball, badminton and table tennis,” Ruecker said. “We did leagues, doubles leagues, singles leagues and pickleball leagues.”

But with the latest round of restrictions implemented at the end of November, all team or group sports are suspended for all age groups.

Those 18 years of age and younger, however, can continue to practice or rehearse in groups of eight.

Read more: Saskatchewan sports associations concerned over new provincial COVID-19 restrictions

For Ruecker, she says financially the business has taken a hit.

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“We are closed to the public, we aren’t allowed any court rentals or things like that. We are allowed to do our junior lessons… and we’ve still be maintaining sanitization,” Ruecker said.

“The Metis Association has really helped us and given us some loans we can pay back, but other than that we were too small of a business to qualify for any of the funding.”

So, a couple of its members, including Phil Yathon, decided to launch a community fundraiser, raising more than $3,500 so far.

“When the day comes that the restrictions are finally lifted and I can leave my house, but all my favourite restaurants are closed, the cinema is closed and the places I go to meet friends and exercise are closed, it would be no different than with the restrictions,” Yathon said.

“So it means the world to me knowing that there is a place to come back to after the restrictions are lifted.”

Other organizations are also feeling the pinch, including CURLSASK.

“I really couldn’t imagine a worse scenario for our sport,” executive director of CURLSASK, Ashley Howard said.

According to Howard, the season lasted roughly 55 days before restrictions forced a cancellation, with 26 clubs choosing not to open at all.

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Read more: Coronavirus: New Saskatchewan public health measures for restaurants, sports teams

Like Ruecker, Howard says there isn’t a lot of funding available.

“So many of our clubs are volunteer-run and may not be paying rent, just depending on arrangement with the city or town that they are in, so a lot of the federal funding are not appropriate for the curling clubs — so they haven’t been able to get a lot of support,” Howard said.

“CURLSASK is doing our best to absorb the hit as best we can and transfer it to the clubs who really need it at this time…certainly additional funding, fundraising, is really critical at this point in time as our clubs are struggling.”

Howard added the Community Rink Affordability Grant has been accessed, but she says it’s only looking at around $2,500, not enough to pay bills.

With current speculation that restrictions will continue into March, Howard says some clubs are at risk of shutting their doors.

“It’s most certainly been a challenging season for us… that’s certainly a possibility at this point,” Howard said.

“Going into the season it was made known that if clubs were struggling financially to consider the risk of shutdown and maybe take a season off.”

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Back on the court, Ruecker says she’s going to do everything she can to stay open.

“This place to me and the other owner who is my dad was our dream and so we really don’t want to see this fail,” Ruecker said.

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