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A different game

By Chris Lewis | July 23, 2020

Paradise soccer president outlines Covid-related changes

The Paradise Youth Soccer Association is gearing up for the season, just a little later than expected.

President Paul North admitted the structure of play may also look a little different this year.

The club is governed by Soccer Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, and is following the rules set out by those two groups. For the time being, the Paradise Soccer Club is focusing on a return to training.

That means there are some, but not all, players back on the field and taking part in skill-based training sessions. North said that includes ball-handling, passing, and other activities that allow the players in a small group to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves at all times.

So for now contact-based drills where players could come into contact with one another are on hold.

“There are certain things we’re not allowed to do at this point,” North said. “You can’t go in and challenge someone for the ball, for example, like you would in a game. It’s basically more skill-based as opposed to game situation training at this point.”.

North hopes that, in time, the club will be able to move into a more game-friendly situation, and open the fields to the younger players who may have a bit of a harder time adhering to social distancing rules once they get to see their friends and teammates kicking around a ball.

The club, like most others, was shut down in March. North said the loss of time resulted in players losing out on a large chunk of their usual indoor training. In early July, they were able to get back on their feet after having to wait for the Town of Paradise to re-open the facilities.

As of right now, North said, it’s a little too early to tell whether this loss in time will have a negative effect with regards to the number of players, or certain programming since they have yet to open up registration to the young players.

“We’re hoping to hear approval on that sometime in the very, very near future from (NLSA). But, I know the return to play flag is currently with the provincial government,” said North. “It’s been reviewed by them, and is now with the Department of Health for review. So, we’re just holding out until we hear approval from those groups.”

One of the major downsides to the situation this year is that the club had to cancel some of its big events, namely the annual SunSplash Soccer Tournament, which North said was “very disappointing.”

Usually, that event sees over 900 soccer players from all over the province take part in U-11 and U-13 age groups over the course of one weekend.

“It would just be irresponsible of us to try and push that one forward at this time,” North said. “The health of everybody comes first.”

As far as the club’s Premier teams and Metro league teams go, North said they are still awaiting direction from the provincial government bodies.

“We have plans in place and ready, but we can’t move forward with that until we know what the plans from the NLSA will look like. It may need some adaption,” he noted.

North allowed the waiting game is frustrating for parents.

The return to soccer has also come with some significant changes to the way things operate. Currently, the field has been set up with specific entry and exit points, and staggered training times have been implemented to avoid having multiple groups show up for training at the same time.

“Normally, after every practice, the coaches would take the balls and equipment home with them. They no longer do that, and we’ve got everything sanitized so that one group will use the balls, then it all gets sanitized before the next group uses them later that evening,” North said. “Right now, during training, it’s a drop-and-go situation. We don’t allow parents to stay around and watch because we’re trying to limit the number of people around the fields as much as possible.”

That’s something North hopes to see change as time goes on.

“But there are a few regulations we’re sticking to,” he added. “When children come to the field, they get their temperature checked, they sanitize their hands, and we keep a running list of who’s at practice, and who dropped them off. Just in case there were to be a surge of COVID-19 cases, we have to keep all that information for contact tracing. It’s certainly different.”

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