Following on the heels of an announcement by OFSAA that cancelled all provincial high school sports championships for fall 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the region’s sports body announced the cancellation of all EOSSAA event for fall 2020 as well.
Traditionally, the fall schedule of high school sports championships includes cross-country running, girls basketball, boys volleyball, football, and golf.
As for the possibility of any form of sports at schools this fall, I am told that inter-board events definitely will not be happening. There is a possibility of some activities within a board, but it is more likely that sports will only take place in a limited form within individual schools.
The UCDSB, for example, in its return-to-school document states, “Inter-school sports will not be occurring at this time. Schools may, however, offer co-curricular (such as some intramural sports activities), if cohorting requirements can be maintained and physical distancing is possible. Areas that are used must be able to be cleaned between cohorts.”
The region’s English Catholic board, the CDSBEO, notes in its document, “Sports continue to be on hold until the Ministry of Education, in consultation with public health authorities, indicate that it is safe for sports to resume.” However, the board adds that it recognizes sports to be an “integral part of the school experience for many students” and will aim to “resume sports and extracurricular activities that can safely continue based on input from the Ministry of Education and local public medical officers of health.”
In what seems like some sense of normalcy returning to the hockey world, junior teams across our region are looking forward to their 2020 training camps, and the Hawkesbury Hawks of the CCHL are no exception, set to holds theirs starting later this week.
The 2020-21 training camp for the junior ‘A’ Hawks is scheduled to run August 21 through 23, at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex, in Hawkesbury.
On the heels of an announcement that our federal government would not provide an interest-free loan to the Canadian Football League in order to pave the way to an abbreviated 2020 season to be held in Winnipeg, the CFL today officially announced there will be no games this year and that they will now focus on 2021.
The cancellation of yet another league’s football season adds to the list this year, as one-by-one associations have cancelled play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally, as previously reported on this website, we have seen the cancellation of spring youth football, the province-wide OFC league, and NCAFA (fall tackle football). Nationally, university football has pre-emptively been cancelled in three of four associations (Ontario, West, and Atlantic).
“The Canadian Football League is shifting its focus to 2021 and beyond after deciding not to play a shortened season this Fall.”
CFL announcement, 17 August 2020
The CFL’s commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, was quoted in the league’s announcement, saying, “Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future. We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league, and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”
The CFL’s key point of revenue generation is ticket sales, so that means fans in the seats, something that isn’t in the cards for this year. The league had been exploring a plan to play all games in Winnipeg, without fans in attendance, and was looking for some help from the federal government, in the form of a loan to do so. Word came out over the weekend that the loan application had been rejected.
Eastern Ontario’s entry in the CFL, the Ottawa RedBlacks, announced on Twitter, “Our sights are now set on the 2021 Season. Nous regardons maintenant vers la saison 2021.”
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the NCAFA (fall youth tackle football) season, the Cornwall Wildcats Football Club has put together a plan to offer flag football in the Seaway City.
Game format will be seven-on-seven, with the action to take place in September and October, though practices are slated to start later this month.
In the announcement, the Wildcats note that the sport’s governing body, Football Ontario, has moved into phase three of its return to play plan. This allows for club-level training and flag football. In other words, teams can compete in-house, but not against other football club.
The Wildcats stress that registration is limited in number, due to Football Ontario restrictions. registration will be closed once maximum numbers are reached at each level.
The Wildcats plan to form teams at the conclusion of the registration period, together with a practice and game schedule, with the aim for a six to eight-game season, with one practice session per week.
Age groups are mosquito (DOB 2009, 2010, 2011), peewee (DOB 2007, 2008), bantam (DOB 2005, 2006), and midget (DOB 2002, 2003, 2004). For further details, including a link to register, please see this webpage.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to loom over us, the Ontario government recently announced its plan for students to return to schools in September, with a brief mention of sports and recreation activities.
However, specifically on schools, OFSAA, the province’s governing body for high school athletics, has announced there will be no Ontario championships this fall. Traditionally, the slate would include golf, cross-country running, football, girls basketball, and boys volleyball.
Regarding EOSSAA, the regional body for high school sports, no official announcement has been made, though I have been told that they will “follow OFSAA’s direction.”
Locally, the SDGAA and PRSSAA have not made official statements either. Marc Poirier, head of athletics at Holy Trinity (which competes in the SD&G league) and Éric Crête, a coach at Le Relais (Prescott-Russell league), tell me they have not heard of any local planning.
I’m told that it’s possible individual boards may allow some sort of sports/recreation, in line with government direction, which suggests activities can only take place within a school (i.e. n inter-school competition), whilst maintaining physically distancing and enhanced cleaning. Whether boards and schools decide to take on the risk remains to be seen.
Across the country, university sports have been cancelled in three of four leagues (Only Quebec still has plans for competition). In Ontario, college sports this fall have also been cancelled.
The Alexandria-based Glengarry Hockey School has enjoyed a long tradition of providing children with skills development at the start of each season. However, for 2020, there will be no hockey school taking place at the Glengarry Sports Palace due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a social media post, Luc Duval, whose family operates the school, stated, “The Glengarry Hockey School strongly believes that keeping our players, volunteers, and families safe is paramount, especially during these uncertain times with COVID-19. With this in mind and the current information we have about COVID-19, we have decided to cancel this year’s program.”
The post goes on to note that the 2021 edition is scheduled to begin on August 22.
The Glengarry Hockey School began in 1980 under the direction of Glengarry Sports Hall of Famer (2001) Gilles Joanette, with assistance from sons Yves and Pascal, as well as Brian MacDonald and Gaetan Giroux. Operation of the school was transferred from the Joanette family to Luc Duval a few years ago.
Will you feel comfortable participating in curling this season? That is part of what executive members of the Lancaster and District Curling Club are trying to learn from the general membership, as planning continues towards potential re-opening this fall.
Last season came to a crashing halt in mid-May, when health authorities issued directives to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not much has changed in terms of risk since then, but the provincial government and local health authorities have gradually reduced restrictions, allowing sports and recreation groups to begin preparing for a return to play.
The Lancaster and District Curling Club conducted its 2020 annual general meeting remotely this year, in June, at which the new slate of executive directors was confirmed.
As part of the group’s work, plans are being explored for the 2020-21 season, including a survey of members.
Among the questions asked, the board wants to know, “If authorities allow sports to reopen in the fall, do you plan on curling with us this year?”
Should the club re-open for play, a number of health-related changes are being considered:
In an effort to spread out games, the club is looking at having league games extend through the weekend.
Members are also being asked, “Do you think it is reasonable to ask curlers to help wipe down the rocks, brooms, and door handles before each game?”
For individuals uncomfortable curling this year, the Lancaster executive asks if they will return once there “is a vaccine / effective treatment.”
Wherever possible, activities should be re-located to outdoor settings.
Indoor facility ventilation systems should be both operational and appropriate for the activities practiced within.
Designate a responsible person to oversee activities to ensure public health guidelines are followed.
Consideration should be given on how to appropriately include or accommodate vulnerable persons such as seniors, those with disabilities and persons with compromised immune systems.
Remove unnecessary communal items such as candy, magazines, and complimentary phone chargers. Where disposable water cups are provided, place a garbage receptacle close by for any used cups.
Communicate to all participants (coaches/staff, instructors, officials, participants, and their guardians, volunteers) about the risk of COVID-19 and practices that should be undertaken to mitigate risk.
The guidelines go further, specifically detailing rules for screening, prevention, and outbreak management; mandatory mask use indoors; entrance signage; capacity and scheduling requirements to maintain physically distancing; cleaning and disinfection; locker rooms; participants and spectators; equipment; and food and drink.
The EOHU document states, “Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume so long as they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players, or if they have modifications to avoid physical contact between players.” It also suggests, “participants should be encouraged to bring their own equipment.” Any shared equipment must be “cleaned and sanitized between users.” The EOHU also recommends that organizations develop a publicly-available written plan.
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.”
The Central Canada Hockey League (junior ‘A’) held its Annual General Meeting on June 29, the first time it had been done via video conferencing, for the 12 clubs of the Eastern Ontario loop.
“While uncertainty remains, the return to play protocols developed by Hockey Eastern Ontario through our four local health units and the Canadian Junior Hockey League have allowed us to prepare for the upcoming weeks and months.
The CCHL will conduct its scheduled meeting on July 15, and at that time will confirm the start date and schedule length based on the most current information of the day.
We look forward to hitting the ice for training camp and our annual showcase when it is safe for players, officials and spectators to do so.
CCHL announcement following the 2020 Annual General Meeting
The 2019-20 came to an abrupt end in March, with the playoffs set to begin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandated Hockey Canada shutdown.
The Hawkesbury Hawks (36-24-2-0) were scheduled to play the Smiths Falls Bear (33.24-3-2) in their opening-round playoff series, while the Cornwall Colts (21-35-1-5) didn’t qualify for post-season action.
The latest announcement from the Glengarry Soccer League officially ended any prospect of a summer season of the beautiful game in the county, as the GSL has pulled the plug on play in all adult divisions.
That prospect was ended with this June 22 announcement: “Unfortunately, there will be no GSL soccer this outdoor season. The GSL has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL divisions. This includes Senior, Tier 2, and Hearts (in addition to the previously cancelled minor division).”
The addition of the Hearts to the cancellation list refers to the competitive Glengarry Hearts minor teams that the county fields each year to compete in the East Region Soccer League. The ERSL has not cancelled its season, which, in a normal year, would have begun in mid-May and run through August, occasionally into September.
A GSL representative told me that the county league was waiting on word from the ERSL and/or the EODSA (the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association, which is the region’s governing body for the sport), but none came, so the GSL acted, officially silencing soccer balls in Glengarry.
Meanwhile, Ontario Soccer and the EODSA has announced that clubs can begin phase 1 of the Return to Play plan.
According to Ontario Soccer plan, phase 1 allows for a return to modified training. Restrictions include no contact and no league, exhibition, festival, or tournament matches.
Ontario Soccer notes that the organization “will determine timelines for each Phase in alignment with the Province of Ontario provincial health authorities involving government orders, restrictions, and guidelines.”
The ERSL has been working on a contingency plan to salvage a 2020 season, which now will not include any Glengarry Hearts teams. According to the current outline, “If we are not in Phase 3 of Ontario Soccer’s Return to Play Guidelines on or before July 31, 2020, the ERSL will cancel the 2020 outdoor season.”
The hope is that a 9-week season could start August 2, providing 10 to 12 games per team, and running through early October. This is what the ERSL bills as “our most extensive delay,” one of a number of scenarios within their contingency plan. Under this situation, divisions would be assigned two game days per week, Cup and Shield events would be cancelled, and there would be no two-week break in the schedule.
The Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club also cancelled its 2020 outdoor season for house teams and the Coyotes (tournament play).
The Seaway Valley Blazers ERSL teams, which play out of Cornwall, are still registered to play in the region’s competitive league, should its season proceed at some point. Currently, the club is set to field boys teams at the U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15 (two squads), U16, U17, and U18 levels. On the girls side, expected teams are U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U16, and U18 (two squads).