B.C. amateur sports chart a path back to the field as province eases COVID-19 restrictions

Things won’t look the same this year, but B.C. athletes are beginning to see a path back to the field, pitch and ice as the province lays out its path to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most amateur sporting organizations, including Hockey Canada and BC Soccer pulled the plug on sporting activities in mid-March, as the coronavirus arrived in earnest in B.C.

On Wednesday, the province laid out its timeline to resume activities, which included a goal of resuming sports and recreation — with added safety precautions — in mid-May.

According to that plan, all participants would be screened daily for symptoms, with anyone with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms required to sit out.

“Low contact sports, especially those outdoors, are considered safer. Identify high contact sports that should not take place during the pandemic,” according to the guidelines.

“The B.C. Parks and Recreation Association has been working to try and find ways that kids sports and summer camps and all of the things that make for an exciting summer for young people can take place. And we’re gonna be working with them through public health to see if there’s a way that we can see that happening,” said Premier John Horgan on Wednesday.

Horgan pointed to baseball as an example of a sport that could be played outdoors with a minimum amount of close contact or sharing of equipment.

“Hockey and other sports, whether they’re played in beer leagues or whether it’s youth minor hockey organizations, we’re gonna be working through that into the fall,” said Horgan.

“We have a season ahead of us for baseball and other summer activities. We’re gonna be focusing on that first and foremost.”

That’s not stopping some groups, however, with moving ahead.

At the Burnaby Winter Club, some spring hockey activities are already resuming, though with only a few players on the ice, and no contact.

The facility says Fraser Health granted it authority to reopen as of Wednesday, so long as it follows physical distancing practices and an enhanced cleaning regime.

“Most of the bookings that we have right now are one-on-one private lessons or one-on-two private lessons. So it’s been really good,” said Richard Matvichek with Burnaby Winter Club Hockey.

The Fraser Valley Kings spring hockey program is also looking at a return to the ice, after moving programming like skills drills and fitness challenges online.

The club envisions a maximum of four players and one coach on the ice at a time, with the hope of upping those ratios in the weeks to come — even if there are no games.

“The primary focus … of spring hockey, is not necessarily the games and tournaments that they do but more about development of the kids and being connected,” said Troy Stordy with the Fraser Valley Kings Hockey.

Whether players are able to gear up for a more normal season likely won’t be clear until the fall.

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