Illegal procedure: Calgary sports clubs await word on future of city gameplay

Calgary's community sports teams are on hold while the leagues await word on public health rule relaxations

Al Cooper the coach of Bantam Grey football, Don Boulton Cowboys general manager on the right. COWBOYSFOOTBALLYYC / INSTAGRAM

Calgary community sports organizations are hopeful they won’t see a decline in participation as they ride out public health rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

With physical distancing, limits on large gatherings and warnings about high touch surfaces, most team sports have been put on hold during COVID-19.

Calgary’s public health orders banned team sports play indefinitely. At the May 7 City of Calgary coronavirus briefing, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he didn’t expect these sports to return this summer.

“It’s very doubtful in my mind that we will actually allow team sports, that we will actually allow kids to play soccer or in particularly basketball where you’re holding where you’re touching the same ball and you’re close to one another,” he said.

“I don’t see that happening this summer.”

Coach said desire to play will outlive virus

Calgary Cowboys Minor Football – Bantam Grey team’s head coach Al Cooper is confident the organization will continue due to its ability to accommodate players.

Cooper said they might have an abbreviated season, and fees may be cut in half.

“And as anyone who has played Cowboys football will know, you didn’t have to buy your own helmet, shoulder pads, practice clothes or jerseys. It’s all provided,” he said.  

Cooper said although teams can’t play, the desire will continue past the quarantine. 

“We are going to get some parents that are apprehensive because of the contact and the nature of the sport,” he said.

“But we think the motivation from those that want to play will always be there,” Cooper said.

Grant Caswell, owner of SCRHL is optimistic about restarting the league. SOUTHCALGARYRECHOCKEY / INSTAGRAM

South Calgary Recreational Hockey league’s owner Grant Caswell believes that players will make a return to the ice post-pandemic.

“I honestly think that there will be a demand for it. I think people will come out if they really want to play,” he said.

Caswell knows his organization will continue indefinitely. Right now, they’re restricted by the inability to access the rinks to practice and play games. 

“We are really driven by what happens with the arenas and the guidelines that we’re given from the municipal government and probably the provincial government,” he said.

No way forward for Calgary sports yet

The future of sports in Calgary is on an indefinite pause. Sports clubs are patiently waiting for the provincial government’s Phase 3 plans. 

Mayor Nenshi noted that while easing restrictions is the goal, the public’s health is the main priority.

“We’ll work closely with public health, with the province of Alberta and ensure (public health), if and when restrictions are eased,” he said.

“Then we will be looking very carefully at what kind of sports activities could fall under those loosened restrictions.”

The mayor also encouraged minor sports groups, many of whom are non-profit, to look into federal support funding. He also suggested groups contact Sport Calgary to see if there are amended rules for gameplay, or guidelines when restrictions are relaxed.

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