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Soccer season is up in the air

A tentative June start date has been proposed
In June 2019 kids took part in a soccer tournament at the fields outside Whispering Hills Primary School in Athabasca. In 2020 it is uncertain if there will be a season at all. File
ATHABASCA – The soccer season is in limbo right now as Canada Soccer is trying to salvage the upcoming season according to president of the Athabasca Soccer Association Josh Smith. 

With the need for social distancing and no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, sports that traditionally start in the spring are already considering pushing start dates closer to summer. If that happens smaller groups like in Athabasca may not have enough youth to qualify for a season. 

“(It) sounds like we're going have the June-July season with the start of June 15.” said Smith. “That's kind of what they're projecting but they're supposed to have another virtual meeting next week to confirm it; we're just kind of waiting to hear back.” 

Smith added that enrolment has already declined from the previous year so pushing the season past when kids normally participate may severely impact the season as summer is when families tend to take vacation and travel. 

“Our numbers were low last year, but this year they're quite a bit lower,” Smith said. “We usually declare 10 teams to play and this year I declared seven. That’s the other thing (the Tri-County Soccer Association) questioned us about; what are our thoughts on a July-August season and 100 per cent of us said that’s out of the question.” 

The Tri-County Soccer Association is the governing association for small communities stretching from Athabasca to Smoky Lake, south to Tofield and back west to Riviere Qui Barre and Westlock. Some of the soccer associations will have the ability to draw on nearby larger communities, but not for places like Athabasca, Boyle, Grassland or Westlock. 

Smith added that parents who did register but chose to withdraw their child or children after a firm decision was made would be able to get a refund, but it’s uncertain if there will be a penalty for declaring teams now that may not exist come summer. 

“I'm hoping that if we declare it and we have people drop out that they'll waive the penalty fee because everybody's in the same boat,” he said. “I asked our president of Tri-County that question; if there'd be a penalty and it's a gray area right now. They're supposed to have a meeting to figure out what they're going do if nobody declares or whatever.” 

Heather Stocking,
Follow me on Twitter @HLSox

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