Recreational sports prepare to play on P.E.I. with new guidelines
'There is no playbook on this. This is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.'
Sport organizations on P.E.I. are working on plans for the summer now that the government has released public health guidelines.
It is expected that sports like baseball, basketball, gymnastics, soccer and hockey will be allowed starting on June 1, the planned date for the third phase of the province's Renew P.E.I. together plan.
Public health guidelines released on the weekend ranked the sports based on potential physical contact. Those with high potential for contact will be permitted, with modifications.
Some sports, like martial arts, wrestling, tackle football will not be permitted yet as they are considered to have a high level of risk.
Sports organizations are now reviewing how to follow the other Phase 3 public health guidelines — like having gatherings with no more than 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors.
"Now that we have something that we can look at and go through we're, we'll be having, I'm sure, more questions to pass on their way" said Gemma Koughan, executive director of Sport P.E.I.
Koughan said she has been hearing from different organizations that they are cautiously optimistic about the summer.
What can they do within their sport that can make an adjustment so the experience is still a good one for all the participants.— Gemma Koughan
They're optimistic that the Island is at a point where people can plan to take part in organized sports once again. They're also cautious as they still want to proceed in a manner that will keep everyone safe while following the chief public health office guidelines.
She said the organizations are trying to balance the two — and be creative about how to move forward.
"What can they do within their sport that can make an adjustment so the experience is still a good one for all the participants but still follow those guidelines," Koughan said.
"So each sport will probably be looking at some different types of processes that you may not have seen before on a field or in a gym or wherever it might be."
Batter take your base
Due to the number of people allowed on the field at a time — coaches and players — Baseball P.E.I. plans to hold tryouts and train during the month of June, as two teams on the field would be over the limit.
Randy Byrne, executive director for Baseball P.E.I., said they are still working on finalized plans but expects some changes will be needed.
"There is no playbook on this. This is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence," Byrne said.
While they are coming up with rules and guidelines, the expectation for organizers is that everything is fluid, as things could change at any time. That includes some culture changes around the sport.
"There will be no chewing gum, no sunflower seeds, no spitting, to reduce respiratory droplets," Byrne said.
"That's kind of the learned behaviour that we will have to change."
Peter Wolters, executive director of P.E.I. Soccer Association, said they will also be planning training to keep the numbers on the field in line with the rules.
"We are, after about the second week or so, looking to introduce some modified game rules where the one team training might play five against five and see how those rules might impact their play," Wolters said.
The organization is looking at rules like no throw-ins to limit the number of people touching the ball with their hands. Goalkeepers already wear goalie gloves. They are also limiting riskier manoeuvres, like hitting the ball with a player's head or slide tackles.
All the changes are to ensure the organization meets the public health office guidelines.
"Unless it's within the, the mass gathering numbers that will be permitted, we might be playing games where unfortunately, the fans, the parents, can't attend on the sidelines.
On the court
Tennis P.E.I. will be offering signage to all the communities with courts to help get the message out about playing during these COVID times.
The organization will also be putting detailed recommendations from Tennis Canada on their website, as will as putting information on their social media platforms.
Advanced bookings will be available for the courts to try and limit the congestion of people waiting to play.
Tennis P.E.I. will be encouraging players to train and compete in ways that limit the number of times a tennis ball can be handled by different people.
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With files from Brittany Spencer