Despite the recent loosening of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to training for some clubs, the East Region Soccer League, Eastern Ontario’s competitive youth association, has announced there will be no 2020 outdoor season.
The official announcement came down today, July 31, but the writing was probably on the wall for a while, as numerous youth leagues across the province have been forced to cancel play this year.
The Glengarry Soccer League, which fields Glengarry Hearts teams in the ERSL, previously pulled the plug on soccer in the county and the participation of the Hearts in any potential ERSL play this summer.
In the ERSL announcement, league general manager Shannon Holder stated, “Since March we have worked on various models and contingency plans in anticipation of a return to play. We have looked to the health officials, the government and our governing bodies for direction, as well as our members, to lead our planning efforts to meet their needs. Unfortunately, we are not in Phase 3 of Ontario Soccer’s Return to Play (RTP) Guidelines and therefore we are still not permitted to operate league games.”
Ontario Soccer’s return to play protocol and stages are different from the “stages” announced by the provincial government. The province’s oversight body for the beautiful game allowed, from July 16, leagues within a number of health unit territories (including Ottawa and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit), to move to phase 2 of return to play, meaning that clubs could engage in “enhanced training and modified games” as well as inter-squad modified competition, but online within the club.
As such, league play remained prohibited.
From the ERSL announcement, “Once approval from Ontario Soccer has been received to return to organized games [phase 3 of RTP], the league will return to planning for our next season. We hope to see everyone back on the pitch to test your skills in league play soon.”