SDSA hopeful 2020 season can still run

SOUTH DUNDAS – While everything is on hold as restrictions are in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some sports organizations are in a wait-and-see mode.

South Dundas Soccer is planning on running it’s annual soccer spring-summer program, even if there are some modifications required.

“We’re hopeful that conditions improve and that the season can proceed,” said Phil Blancher, South Dundas Soccer president.

This year is the 25th season for the soccer program, which began in 1996 in Iroquois with about 40 kids, and has grown into the largest youth sports program in South Dundas. In 2019, over 425 players took part in the 10 week season, culminating with the annual World Cup tournament.

Usually by this time in April, registration has concluded and teams are being drafted.

“Not this year,” Blancher said. “I think we’d all rather be worrying about t-shirt orders and field paint than this.”

Registration began early this season and so far about 200 players aged 4-18 have signed up either at the first registration session held in February, or online. The club planned four in-person registrations this year, but that was cut short due to government ordered closures.

Moving forward, the club has a contingency plan should the soccer season be allowed to proceed.

“We have some flexibility with starting the season in late May, and can move those dates around,” Blancher said.

South Dundas Soccer’s season was to begin May 23rd and end July 25th.

“We can contract the season a few weeks and start late,” Blancher said adding that some mid-week games could be added depending on how late the season started. “If we can’t get on the field by late June, then the season is at risk of being cancelled.”

Until then, he said that registrations are still being accepted online and by mail, but fees are not being collected until further notice. Determining if the season will go ahead will be decided by the board, on the advice of public health officials.

“We’re keeping the registrations open and are hopeful to have a season this year,” said Blancher.

In the event that the season ultimately is cancelled, all player fees will be refunded.

“That is the last resort though, we really want to see the season be played this year.”

One casualty to the prolonged shutdown and delay is the competitive part of the club, Seaway Kickers.

“I don’t see a season occurring there as many of the Ottawa-based clubs have already had field bookings cancelled straight through to the end of June,” said Blancher.

The last season the club had a competitive travelling team was 2017 and organizers have been working on rebuilding interest within the soccer community over the past two years.

“We were close to having two teams this year; we could have made it work,” he said.

One part of the soccer club that is not being cancelled is the annual bursary program for student volunteers. The SDSA plans to award its annual bursary at the Seaway District High School graduation in June, or whenever the ceremony is held.

Blancher said the final decision on a soccer season will be made by late-May. Anyone interested in signing up can download forms and contact information from the club’s website at southdundassoccer.org.

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