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Local soccer season to be delayed; potentially shortened

[File Photo]

There will be plenty of local soccer players and fans disappointed that games won’t be starting when they should, as the coronavirus has forced the Woolwich Wolf Pack to delay the start of their season.

Originally slated to start around the May long weekend, the current start to the season is predicted to be sometime in July. Of course, that’s provided restrictions get eased.

All sports from major leagues to minor sports have been cancelled since mid-March, and while players accept staying in to maintain the health and safety of them and everyone else, they’re starting to get agitated.

Brendan Lowther, coach with the Wolf Pack in the SWRSL league, says everyone is disappointed and hoped for a better outcome.

“We’re still hopeful because we have to wait for Ontario Soccer and the district to make decisions about the future of the season,” said Lowther. “I know they’re hopeful about getting some part of the season in for sure, but nothing at this point [will] happen until July.”

He says his U13 team is disappointed with the situation because this would be the first year they get to use scoring and standings to track their progress to win a league trophy.

“They’ve been preparing since they were eight-years-old for this season, so it’s pretty disappointing for sure for them as players,” said Lowther. “They were looking forward to showcasing their skills and playing to win.”

In late March, Ontario Soccer and Canada Soccer announced all sanctioned in-person events and activities for the month of May had been cancelled or postponed. In addition to the governing bodies’ decision, the township has closed all fields and recreation areas until the end of June which pushes any potential start to sporting seasons until July, despite the Wolf Pack website stating a potential June start.

Lowther says an issue going into a late season comes from players who are in multiple sports. He says extending a season into the fall would not only be an issue as the weather gets worse and fields begin to close, but players on his teams are also involved in hockey and that would pull them away from soccer if they had to make a choice.

“There are a lot of players who play different sports so for them to extend the season past the summer might be difficult for a lot of teams including ours,” he said. “To have their players be able to play soccer when this is their alternative sport in the summer … it’s going to be difficult for them to choose. So some of them will just go to hockey.”

Lowther’s prediction for any potential season is that it will be very short, but the final decision on what the season will look like must come from Ontario Soccer once the COVID-19 crisis is at a manageable level.

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