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Sports organizations say Saskatchewan’s return-to-play date is too late

Click to play video: 'Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon' Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon
WATCH: Sports organizations in Saskatchewan say the province's plan to allow sports to begin operating in June is too late and would like to see theat date moved up – May 10, 2021

Baseball Sask is hoping it can begin playing sooner rather than later.

As of right now, groups are restricted to eight participants and up to two coaches in a training capacity with physical distancing in place.

The province recently announced it would be allowing sports to be in full swing in Step 2 of its latest reopening roadmap, which is expected for the third week of June.

Read more: COVID-19 — Saskatchewan lays out ‘roadmap’ in reopening from pandemic

Mike Ramage, Baseball Sask’s executive director, is looking for the green light to start playing ball before that.

“We’re hoping that some of the outdoor sports can potentially get an earlier start than that, just based on the fact that obviously, we can be outside and socially distance without a problem,” Ramage said.

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Many baseball leagues across Saskatchewan were among the first sports to be allowed to return to play last year with protocols in place. That happened in July.

Click to play video: 'Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon' Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon
Baseball Saskatchewan hoping to play games soon – May 10, 2021

“We’ve shown that we can get the games played. We can do it in a safe manner with sanitization and social distancing as we’re a non-contact sport. It’s a little easier that way for us,” Ramage said.

“We’ve got the roadmap from last year anyway, so we know how to do this again this year. We just hope we can kind of get it going a little sooner than we did last year.”

Ramage said membership numbers are up from what they were last year after they saw a 41 per cent decline.

Soccer players in Saskatchewan itching to get on the pitch

Like Baseball Sask, the Saskatchewan Soccer Association is also pushing for a sooner return than the third week of June.

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Under current restrictions, soccer teams in the province are permitted to be on the field in a practice capacity following certain distancing guidelines, but the itch to get back into game action is growing.

Read more: Prairieland Park axes thoroughbred racing, pursuing professional soccer team

“We think soccer and sport, in general, could be an important part of community wellness that really helps people get behind the reopen roadmap,” said Doug Pederson, Saskatchewan Soccer Association executive director.

The Saskatchewan Soccer Association has an elaborate return-to-play plan spanning 34 pages, similar to guidelines put in place last year.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Soccer eyeing return to gameplay' Saskatchewan Soccer eyeing return to gameplay
Saskatchewan Soccer eyeing return to gameplay – May 10, 2021

“Our 50-plus member organizations did a tremendous job to offer soccer safely last year. We’ve shown that and we think that we can be part of the solution,” Pederson said.

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Pederson said it would be best to not have to wait for Step 2 of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan and to get play going before that.

“For many of our members, the spring to end of June is their core season and we could lose up to 70 per cent of our membership,” Pederson said.

Football Saskatchewan looking for a phased approach in return to action

Football Saskatchewan is hoping the government will allow it to slowly get back up to speed in a phased approach.

“It gives organizations an opportunity to slowly integrate back into sport appropriately as opposed to just a large kind of mash with 150 people allowed out immediately,” said Mike Thomas, Football Saskatchewan’s director of operations.

Read more: Return of high school athletics in Regina delayed

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The province is set to enter Step 1 on May 30, and Thomas is hoping outdoor sports like football can begin their grace period then instead of the third week of June.

“Leagues and organizations will need to have time to get things sorted out from a contract basis with different locations,” Thomas said.

Last year, when football was able to resume after developing an extensive return-to-play plan, Thomas said there was just one COVID-19 case among the 10,000 participants, which was quickly contained.

Click to play video: 'Football Saskatchewan hoping for a phased return to gameplay' Football Saskatchewan hoping for a phased return to gameplay
Football Saskatchewan hoping for a phased return to gameplay – May 10, 2021

“The program was shut down for not just 14 days, we shut it down for 21 days and returned and nothing else had occurred,” Thomas said.

Thomas said after a long winter with no games, Football Saskatchewan is one of the organizations hoping the authorities will reconsider where sports are in the reopening plan, given not just the physical benefits, but the mental ones as well.

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