After a summer without soccer on pitches across the county, the Glengarry Soccer League announced its tentative plans for an indoor season to begin this fall, but that has now been nixed as well.
On September 23, the league issued a statement saying, “After reviewing the guidelines from OSA [Ontario Soccer Association] and the government, discussions with the EOHU [Eastern Ontario Health Unit], and monitoring the current situation with COVID-19 and the community, the GSL has decided not to run an indoor soccer league this fall.”
In some consolation, the statement adds, “We are going to reassess and consider having a shortened league come January.”
The GSL last saw action in early March, when the 2019-20 season came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, winter indoor soccer playoffs were underway. Initially, matches were postponed, with play subsequently cancelled and no champions declared.
Through the summer, other GSL programs were delayed and later cancelled, including all youth and adult outdoor soccer, as well as the competitive regional Glengarry Hearts teams that compete in the Ottawa-based ERSL.
As of posting this story, the league’s website had not been updated, still displaying information to register for the now-cancelled summer outdoor season.
The GSL has been limited by health and safety guidelines imposed by the league’s sanctioning body, the Ontario Soccer Association.
Under the OSA outline, as of September 17, leagues are now permitted play within a region (We are part of the east region, EODSA), with modified games (e.g. no throw-ins, limited handling of the ball) and training. In the case of indoor soccer, per government guidelines, a maximum of 50 people can be in the facility at any one time.
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 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).
Glengarry’s Matthew Houlzet marked his final year at Fleming College by being honoured with a Knights cross-country running team award.
Due to the COVID-19 shutdown of Ontario’s colleges, the school presented its honours remotely, with Houlzet recognized with the coaches’ award for cross-country. Teammates Daniel Sellers and Frances Emery, respectively, received the men’s and women’s MVP awards.
Looking back on the running season, the graduate of Glengarry District High School tells me that the highlight for him was the frequent travel with his Knights team. Excursions for meets took the squad to Windsor, London, and Toronto..
“We were a small team,” he adds, “with only myself and one more runner returning from last year, so this [the travel] offered time to get to know the other runners and coaches pretty well.”
Houlzet graduated this past spring from the Fleming College occupational therapist assistant and physiotherapist program.
“I’d like to thank and send appreciation to all of the people who have helped me along the way. Classmates, teammates, faculty and friends, you have all been amazing and I’ll remember these couple years with fond memories. Until next time, Peterborough.”
Matthew Houlzet statement on wrapping up his collegiate studies and athletics career
He had been expecting to be busy working for the Glengarry Soccer League this summer, serving as referee assigner and minor referee in chief; however, the COVID-19 pandemic put a crimp in those plans. The GSL minor season was cancelled, and the senior (adult) schedule has been pushed back until later in the summer, at the earliest. In the meantime, Houlzet has been working on a local hop farm.
At the time of that announcement on May 11, the GSL stated that it would convene its board and committee members to explore options. Yesterday, the league announced there would be no minor soccer for the 2020 season.
“The Glengarry Soccer League has made the difficult decision to cancel the Outdoor 2020 season for the MINOR division. An email will be sent out to all participants with information regarding refunds. At this time, a decision has not been made for the Senior and Tier 2 divisions.”
GSL announcement, May 24
Matthew Houlzet, who serves at the GSL referee assignor and GSL minor referee-in-chief and works as a soccer official himself, tells me that the league is still hoping that there will be adult soccer in some form, though the schedule will have to be adjusted and/or compressed.
Typically, senior soccer begins in the latter stages of May, concluding in August. At best, this year, play could begin in July, unless Ontario Soccer extends the prohibition on play through that month.
The GSL will be looking at various schedule options that could see play (if it happens at all) extend into the fall, perhaps as late as October.
The only certainty at this point is that there will be no youth matches in the Glengarry Soccer League this summer.
In terms of other area leagues, today the Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club announced the cancellation of its house league and Coyotes (semi-competitive, all-star program) seasons.
“Due in part to the closure of facilities, the uncertainty of distancing orders surrounding recreational programming, the amount of time it would take to properly organize a recreational soccer program, SVSC must in the best interest of all, unfortunately, cancel its House League and Coyotes programs for spring/summer 2020. It should be noted that this decision did not come lightly, but the safety for all is the most important to the club and we appreciate the patience from parents, players, coaches, and officials.
Should the situation change with current conditions of COVID-19, SVSC will be looking at other options to provide possible soccer training activities once it is deemed safe to do so.”
Seaway Valley Soccer Club statement, May 25
At this time, the East Region Soccer League, the top competitive youth loop in this area, continues to explore options for a 2020 season. The GSL via Glengarry Hearts and the SVSC through its Cornwall Blazers teams participate in this league.
The ERSL has not cancelled play for this summer, but has suspended all in-person activities per direction from Ontario Soccer. Updates on modifications to rules and potential play can be followed on their website here.
The official word came down today from the province’s governing body of the beautiful game, as Ontario Soccer announced the continued suspension of all “in-person soccer events and activities” through to the end of June.
Locally, this affects the Glengarry Soccer League, Char-Lan Minor Soccer, as well as programs in Cornwall.
For its part, the GSL says it “will update our community on the status of our outdoor season after the GSL committee members meet to discuss.”
Typically, play would kick off in late May, with some divisions concluding by early August and others as late as mid-September. While a July-August season is not beyond the realm of possibilities (assuming that it would be permitted by Ontario Soccer), it would bring challenges, such as the impact of a compressed schedule, especially on divisions that include university-aged players who normally leave the region by late August.
From the OSA announcement:
” Ontario Soccer, in consultation with Canada Soccer and governmental advisors, continues to monitor the most recent developments surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and are assessing operations and deciding cancellations and postponements on a month-to-month basis as the pandemic continues to unfold.
As a follow-up to the Ontario Soccer and Canada Soccer announcements of March 12 and March 13, as well as the Ontario Soccer announcements of March 24 and April 7, Ontario Soccer is announcing today that all sanctioned in-person soccer events and activities for the month of June have been cancelled or postponed.
This decision will affect the start of the early portion of the 2020 Outdoor Season for Local, Regional, District, Provincial, OASL, OPDL, and all other leagues across Ontario.”
Ontario Soccer statement, May 11
The statement adds, “For those who may be concerned about registering for the abridged outdoor season, Ontario Soccer is encouraging participants to do so now, so that Districts, Leagues, Clubs, and Academies can be fully prepared to kick off the Return to Play season when announced.”
To date, this is what our region’s clubs have been doing.
Canada Soccer has initiated a program called Canada Soccer Nation Inside. The website includes information and resources, fun activities for the kids, downloadable images, and links to various coaching and training sessions, as well as online webinars.
In Williamstown, the township’s Char-Lan Minor Soccer program usually concludes in late July, prior to the long weekend and the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville (which have been cancelled this year).
The association’s referee-in-chief, Nigel Carlisle in commenting on the status of this season commented in the CLMSA group, “At the moment, soccer has not been cancelled. Soccer will be postponed until we get the all clear from the government.”
Meanwhile, the Chadsey family, which has been very active in Glengarry soccer for many years, recently celebrated Bob’s birthday. One of his daughters, Navy, painted a watercolour for him, highlighting the family’s passion for the beautiful game, which includes a home-made soccer net on their property.
As Navy describes the painting, “The idea behind is it’s me and my siblings on my parents’ front lawn in our Laggan soccer jerseys. We all played for Laggan when we were young, and my dad coached all of our teams. It’s a watercolour painting with some black ink. It’s not from a photo that exists, just came from a sentimental idea!”
The 2020 outdoor season for the Glengarry Soccer League remains in limbo, though all are hoping it will be possible to play.
Officially, all in-person activities through to the end of May have been cancelled or postponed. Typically, GSL matches would begin in the latter stages of that month.
The action is in line with the GSL’s sanctioning body, Ontario Soccer. Here is the official announcement from the league:
Online registration for the 2020 outdoor season, without payment at this point, continues online via the Glengarry Soccer League’s website. As well, online training for officials or coaches is available.
On Monday, the Glengarry Soccer League announced the official end to the winter indoor season, cancelling remaining matches and playoffs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last action took place on March 12, with the season put on hiatus the next day.
With the end to 2019-20 play, Alexandria FC finishes atop the table in the senior men’s division, with 33 points. The Barflies check in second, five points back. McCrimmon ends third (22), followed by the Young Gunners (15), and Glen Sandfield (14).
In senior women’s play, Glen Nevis finished with a perfect record on 16 matches, for 48 points. Alexandria was second (33), followed by Glen Sandfield (20), Vankleek Hill (16), and Dalhart (1).
The U18 boys top team was Brazil (yellow), with 37 points. Rounding out the standings were Canada (red, 26), England (grey, 22), Netherlands (orange, 15), Spain (blue, 13), and Ireland (green, 10).
Canada (red) topped the U18 girls division, notching 31 points from 14 matches. Ireland (green) took second (21), followed by the Netherlands (orange, 13), and Spain (blue, 13).
England (grey) was first in the U13 coed division, taking 33 points. Italy (yellow, 28) followed. Rounding out the standings were the Netherlands (orange, 20), Canada (burgundy, 13), and Ireland (green, 7).
Canada (red), with 35 points, topped the U11 coed group. Following were England (grey, 29), Ireland (green, 16), USA (blue, 15), Spain (yellow, 14), the Netherlands (orange, 10).
Ontario Soccer, in consultation with Canada Soccer, continues to monitor the most recent developments with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the emerging public health crisis.
As the Glengarry Soccer League is registered and sanctioned under Ontario Soccer, we follow the guidelines put forth by Ontario Soccer, who speak with medical experts and comply with government mandates.
At this time, the end of the indoor season has officially been cancelled. We will continue with registration for the Outdoor 2020 season. A decision on how the outdoor season will be altered is not being made just yet. We will continue with registration and begin making teams as we normally do at the end of March / beginning of April. We understand this is a challenging time for many families. If you require financial assistance to register your children for soccer due to COVID-19, please reach out to us via e-mail.
Glengarry Soccer League notice
The league’s referee training plans continue. The entry-level course (age 14 and older), has moved to online certification, while the training of officials for small-sided matches remains on the calendar as scheduled, on Friday, May 1 (5 to 7:30 p.m.) OR Saturday, May 2 (10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
GSL statement: “We appreciate your patience while the GSL navigates this challenging time. We understand the uncertainty of everything can be overwhelming, but we are taking things one week at a time for now. The safety of our players, coaches, referees, volunteers, and spectators is important to us and we will continue to comply with the decisions set forth by Ontario Soccer and adjust our season as needed to keep our community safe.”
The Glengarry League also traditionally fields teams in the ERSL, the region’s competitive soccer league, under the banner Glengarry Hearts. Typically, the season begins in late May, with clubs holding tryouts and practices in the months preceding. At this point, everything is on hold.
Char-Lan Minor Soccer, which plays in Williamstown, is continuing with its registration and planning for the summer 2020 season. Updates can be found in their Facebook group. Registration information can be found here, on South Glengarry’s website.
The Seaway Valley Blazers teams, which compete in the ERSL, are also on hold, in line with direction from Ontario Soccer.
The Glengarry Soccer League’s indoor season has been suspended, effective March 13, says Tammy MacSweyn, GSL vice-president.
The lone match on the docket tonight was the last senior men’s regular-season game featuring the Barflies and McCrimmon. Nothing was scheduled for the March Break (next week), with GSL action originally booked to resume March 22. However, that is now in limbo.
MacSweyn explains that the league is following the direction of Ontario Soccer, which announced last night, “Ontario Soccer has made the difficult decision to immediately suspend all sanctioned soccer activities in the province until further notice.” This includes “all competitions, training, coach and match official education, and team-building activities.”