COCHRANE— With an updated guide for the future of youth sports during COVID-19, Cochrane Minor Football is hoping for a return to play over the summer.
Alberta Football updated its return to play guidelines on Tuesday (April 6), and Cochrane Minor Football members are optimistic about the possibilities for the season.
“Because our season starts in late summer, early fall, I think we’ll be in great shape to be able to allow kids to come out on the turf, and socially distance them, and follow the rules and throw the football around,” said president of Cochrane Minor Football Paul Vaillancourt. “We’re planning on, obviously complying with Alberta Health guidelines and Football Alberta, but we’re planning on having a full season of contact play— Rules allowing that.”
Registration for the league opened in February, and the teams are at half capacity, Vaillancourt said. He expects the teams’ rosters to fill up before the kickoff of the season.
Cochrane Minor Football is planning on hosting some skills camps in mid-June, and despite the current rules only allowing for groups of 10 being fielded at once, Vaillancourt said, the camp will go ahead as scheduled.
“As long as you have the coaching, you can accommodate, for example, a team of 40 on a field. What that means is that you would have nine players with one coach” he said. “That’s normally what we do in football anyway. We do a general warm-up, and then you break down into specific positions. So, the quarterbacks and receivers, well that would be about eight, nine players with a coach, and then the offensive line would be a similar number with a coach, and then linebackers and [defensive backs] would be about eight, nine guys.
“This is not an issue at all for the spring camp,” he added.
The spring camp, Vaillancourt said, is a great opportunity for the youth to receive some initial coaching to prepare them for the competitive season.
Despite the restrictions in place, there are still many opportunities for the youth to work on the fundamentals of the game.
“They can hit bags, and they can get coached up, and they can do some footwork and they can catch some footballs. We just can’t tackle, so we’re not going to issue any sort of equipment at this point,” he said. “We focus on plyometrics and speedwork and fitness. It’s a great way for the guys to get a program in place without having to pay for individual training, and if the guys follow the training program over the summer they come back in fantastic shape and they’re ready to go.”
Vaillancourt hopes over the summer months, the diligence of Albertans and the vaccine rollout program will put the province, and football organizations, in a position to reopen the sport to allow for competitive play.
“We’re pretty confident that a lot of the population can be vaccinated and will be vaccinated by the summer, and I think that’s going to taper that curve,” he said. “I think that’s what gives me confidence that we’ll be able to get there come the fall.”
If that is the case, he said, Cochrane Minor Football will definitely opt in to play a competitive season.
“This year, assuming that there is league play, our intention is to participate and play,” he said. “We’re very hopeful that in September, which is many months away, things will be under control, and things will be back to normal a little bit more, and that includes us playing regular football, contact football. We’re gearing up for that”