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Recreational sports players thrown a curveball when COVID-19 cancelled their seasons

Local amateur leagues frustrated with continued restrictions as spring season begins

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By Patrick Wachter

Current provincial health guidelines banning group team activities have hurt local recreational leagues and limited options for people who want to break a sweat. In lieu of organized events, some games and practices have been flying under the radar, taking advantage of unregulated outdoor sporting activities.

Since spring 2020, attempts to hold amateur sports across Vancouver have been stymied or outright cancelled due to the pandemic and the varying numbers of positive cases in the province.

Leagues stand on the ready for games to return

Chris McNally, the co-founder and managing partner of Urban Rec, said his organization was not allowed to start the league back up yet but wants to be ready when group activities are permitted again.

“We were preparing for no registrations, and we received over 100 teams registered,” McNally said. “It gives us hope, given how tough the COVID-19 pandemic has [been for] our company and business.”

Urban Rec offers multiple sporting leagues including soccer, softball, and beach volleyball.

The current ban on group sports does not include the use of basketball or tennis courts, as long as social distancing measures are observed. Golf is also permitted at various golf courses around Vancouver including Central Park however, golfers must wear masks while they play.

Pick-up games with groups smaller than 10 are also allowed, and casual soccer games are taking place on Saturdays at Trout Lake.

‘Why is Metrotown open, [but] we still can’t play outside?’

Walter Chen is one of the event coordinators for these pickup games. He said to keep the number of players manageable, he’s had to ignore message requests from people interested in joining.

“I am not forcing anyone to oppose the government order, the people who join me in these pick-up games [it is on] them knowing the potential risk,” he said. “The ban on recreational group sports has been difficult to understand. Why is Metrotown open, [but] we still can’t play outside?”

Masks are not required to join in on the soccer game at Trout Lake.

“Come break a sweat with us, and I guarantee that you will understand why we continue to play despite the health order,” Chen said.

Nabi Abdul, a pick-up game soccer player, is frustrated with the current ban on group sports. He argues that people are allowed to go into indoor restaurants and bars so outdoor group sports should have the green light.

“The benefit of physical activity is really essential for personal wellbeing and mental health,” Abdul said.

Various athletes partake in sporting activities and casual games while official leagues are prohibited under COVID-19 guidelines. Slideshow by Patrick Wachter.

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