Saskatchewan sports associations concerned over new provincial COVID-19 restrictions

Sports associations from across Saskatchewan are raising concerns with the province’s latest restrictions which will impact how people can participate in recreational activities.

The restrictions, which are set to take place on Nov. 27, will see all sport, recreation and group activities suspended for all age groups.

Read more: Coronavirus: New Saskatchewan public health measures for restaurants, sports teams

However any groups that are made up of participants who are 18 years old and younger can continue to practice or rehearse in cohorts of eight, providing everyone is wearing a mask and are distanced by at least three metres.

There also can’t be two cohorts using the same court, field, rink or surface at one time.

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The changes have hockey associations looking for alternatives on how to lace up within the new rules.

“Our members are scrambling to make it work and they will make it work because they certainly want kids to keep going. I know in Regina, I think they’ve decided to shut down their association for three weeks,” said Saskatchewan Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock.

He added that competitive hockey was getting ready for a two-week winter break in December. 

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McClintock noted they were even considering a three-week break after noticing a spike in cases after Thanksgiving and are anticipating something similar following the holiday season.

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Saskatchewan Athletics Association said it was looking into doing weekly smaller track meets with larger events forced to close, but planning for that is now on ice.

“It’s a whole bad situation trying to figure out what we can do for competition because no one likes to train forever. And that’s the whole thing — they want to play a game or they want to run track and do their event,” executive director Bob Reindl told Global News.

He added that many of the kids who are part of the athletics community generally practice after school is over, and he believes kids will continue to socialize in person if not with their respective sports, dance or recreational clubs.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

All the associations Global News spoke with feel as if they’re being punished, adding teams have played by health officials’ rules with no large outbreaks so far.

Saskatchewan Soccer Association noted the restrictions could result in a drop in registration fees, while others noted it will stall income from clubhouses which would be devastating.

The province is still allowing group fitness classes to take place as long as masks are worn and three metres of space can be maintained.

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It’s something the soccer association’s executive director calls unfair.

“With this decision it appears that the government is determining what type of fitness people can be involved in and have chosen private business owners over the non-profit sport organizations all of which of course have bills to pay,” executive director Doug Pederson said.

He added he’s unsure how a group of adults can continue to go to a bar or play bingo together, but can’t play sports as a group.

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A registered psychologist said at times like this, it’s important for parents, guardians and coaches to talk with their kids and players about keeping a positive mindset to avoid adverse effects on their mental health.

“One of the most important things we can do if we’re affected directly or if we’re the parents or caregivers of those that are struggling is to help give some perspective and revise and ever so slightly refine that catastrophic thinking,” Joti Samra said.

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She added while it isn’t the same as in-person contact, virtual meetings through technology can make for a good substitute in the interim.

The associations all said they’re still working with the government to determine best practices so athletes can continue to play safely.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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