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Woolwich Youth Soccer cancels programs

[Faisal Ali / The Observer]

Local kids will not be lacing up their soccer cleats to hit the pitches this summer, as the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club (WYSC) has chosen to cancel the 2020 season.

Despite Ontario Soccer giving their clubs the ability to start moving ahead with the season in some form, the WYSC board of directors made the decision to shut things down, starting with house league in May and more recently cancelling their rep league.

WYSC was one of the first clubs to cancel their house league when the COVID-19 pandemic essentially closed down the province, but the board had some hope that the rep league would be able to move ahead as planned. However, Andrea Richards, president of WYSC, says once the return to play guidelines came down from Ontario Soccer, cancelling was the only decision that could be made for a club of their size.

“Just based on the return to play guidelines and just a whole gamut of things, basically a full return to soccer [was not possible],” said Richards. “The league basically can’t even run unless there is no social distancing. So, when we heard that [we decided] the league is not going to run. We know almost 100 per cent that social distancing is going to be in effect for quite some time, and it’s not going to not be there by the end of the summer.”

She says they had the option to go back to training and other small group activities as a team, but the protocols that needed to be in place were too much for a small club, including someone on the field to  ensure precautions were being taken.

Despite having the go-ahead to move the season forward, Richards says at the end of the day they were probably not going to be able to play games, and making all these changes just to train was not worth the trouble and risk.

“Obviously, we wanted to keep the season going, we wanted our kids to be able to participate, but when it came down to it… there’s basically almost a zero per cent chance that there’s actually going to be games [played]. It just didn’t seem necessary to put all that all those things into place just so people could train,” she stated.

While WYSC has chosen to hold off on a season this year, larger clubs in Waterloo Region have decided to move ahead. Richards says because they have more people who are able to look after the kids and ensure all protocols are in place, they are able to do what the local club cannot. There was consideration on moving forward in some way, but they decided it was best for WYSC to bow out of the 2020 season.

The decision will see the club forego more than $60,000 in revenue is. Richards said she is hopeful they will be able to return next year stronger than ever and bring soccer back to the township.

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