By Mark Squibb | April 15, 2021
With the Paradise Soccer Club looking to begin registration for the summer months over the next week or so, chairman Paul North hopes players will be able to enjoy a full soccer season.
“Our program traditionally starts in June,” said North. “Last year it didn’t start until late July. We’re hoping to be back on in June this year and be able to run a full 10-week program that allows kids within the program to play games against one another.”
North said that offering the season at the start of the summer, as per usual, will help families who wish to include the sport in their summer plans.
“This year we’re hoping to have the full season program, so people can plan their summer, and plan what the kids are going to be involved in. There were challenges last year getting a program up and running late in July; people had already kind of moved on by that point in the summer.”
Registration was down almost 50 percent last year over a normal summer, partly because of the late start, but largely due to a cancellation of play for the younger age groups.
North said the club hopes to accommodate all age groups this season.
“Our big thing this year is that we would like to see the younger kids back on the field,” said North. “Last year, the program moved ahead, but without the four, five, and six-year-olds. But we want to get them hopefully back on the field this year… Last year our registration was down significantly. We didn’t run a full program because we didn’t take in the younger kids, which make up a significant portion of our registration. We’re hoping to get them back and get back to numbers similar to where we would have been a couple of years ago. But our registration last year was down roughly 40 or 50 percent from 2019.”
In 2019, the club had about 1,000 children on its rosters. In 2020, they only registered around 560.
“If we can get the younger kids back on the field we would hope to be back up around that number,” said North. “We did what we thought was best in the interest of public safety at the time. But I think it would be really good to get the younger kids back on the field this year.”
And though the return-to-play rules and regulations haven’t been finalized, North hopes they will allow for competition with teams from outside the Eastern Health zone.
Those decisions are ultimately made by a number of differing governing bodies.
“In this case, NLSA (the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association) will work directly with SportsNL and Public Health to determine what the rules and regulations around what return to play are,” explained North.
In addition, teams must comply with rules set by individual municipalities governing use of town fields.
“It’s exciting to know that we’ll get the kids back on the field this year, albeit It’s going to be different,” aid North. “Last year we were under a different seat of rules for soccer, so we anticipate being under similar rules to last year.”
Regardless of what those regulations will look like, North said he’s glad to know the athletes will be hitting the turf again soon.
“Physical activity, for kids of any age, or adults, is very important for their wellbeing, both physically and mentally,” said North. “With kids not being able to get out and do their regular things and see their friends on a regular basis, it’s been a challenge for a lot of people. I think if we can get kids on the field, it will help with their physical health as well as their mental well-being.”