Ottawa's sports clubs may not be able to hold organized games yet, but they're getting ready to do so — and are looking forward to begin training sessions next month.
Starting the week of June 13, teams will be able to start training in groups of up to 10, with safety precautions in place, as part of Phase 1 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan.
"We have been ready since spring. Our people are putting everything together," said Bruce Campbell, president of the East Nepean Baseball Association.
"We feel impatient but we understand that public health guidelines need to be adhered to. We hope people get vaccinated quickly so we can play ball this summer."
On Thursday, the provincial government on Thursday announced a three-stage reopening plan, with at least 21 days between phases.
The first phase will allow for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people by mid-June, which means clubs will have the green light to begin training. The second phase will permit leagues themselves to resume.
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While the delay of the summer season has been frustrating, some clubs are relieved they'll at least be able to get training under way in the coming weeks.
"We're happy that we'll be able to get students out and train them in groups of 10, starting June 14," said Kim Gamble, executive director of the Ottawa City Soccer Club.
"We've been doing virtual training, but a lot of the kids are also doing virtual schooling. So by 5 p.m., they just don't feel like going for virtual training."
'A very pivotal time'
For many children, summer sports are like a rite of passage, Campbell said.
"Parents are anxious to get to start a summer sport. It's not just baseball," said Campbell. "It's the same across all sports."
The baseball season would normally have started in May, Campbell said, and the lack of opportunities for kids to socialize during the pandemic has left him "very concerned" about their mental health.
"They are not in school, they're locked down away from their friends and teammates. They didn't have that social connection," he said.
"This is a very pivotal time in the lives of young sportspersons. They've already missed out on a lot of baseball. I hope they get to play soon."