Youth football leagues making contingency plans for 2020 schedules

Physical distancing requirements to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic have put a crimp in all sports schedules this year, including youth football.

The latest league to explore contingencies is NCAFA, which offers a fall competitive program across Eastern Ontario, including teams from the Cornwall Wildcats. Typically, game play begins in August, running through late October.

Representatives from NCAFA recently convened a sub-committee videoconference meeting “on preparing and planning our return to play once we get the go-ahead from our governing bodies and from the municipalities we play in.”

The goal of the group is to be as prepared as possible, if and when football is again permitted.

“We figure that teams would need a minimum of three weeks of practices to properly teach safe contact and get some plays together.”

Possible schedules under consideration are shown in this chart.

schedules
Potential schedules for fall tackle youth football, proposed by NCAFA.

The start date affects the length of the season, as the league is restricted by late-fall weather. The group is also exploring what play might look like if physical distancing requirements continue into September. The likely scenario then would be some sort of tournament, where teams would each get three games.

“Football will be back. And when it does, NCAFA will be ready for it. It’s important that our kids get to be kids again.”

NCAFA sub-committee announcement

The Cornwall Wildcats, which also field spring youth teams that compete in a local friendly league with the Glengarry Gaels, and a squad in the OFC (provincial varsity league), have been trying various methods to stay connected with players, including the use of online workouts and videos.

As the days and weeks pass, the likelihood of seeing spring football is dimming. Usually, the OFC Wildcats would be working out en masse outdoors by this time of year, with game play to begin in mid to late May.

As for the spring youth recreational league, their schedule is traditionally May and June.

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