Questions remain before team sports can resume in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — As part of the Phase Two draft for reopening announced by the province on Thursday, team sports will be able to resume in Manitoba.

It said that these activities can resume as long as steps are taken for physical distancing and enhanced cleaning of equipment and indoor spaces.

For sports organizations in the province, it is good news that the government is proposing that sports can resume, but there are still several questions to be answered.

Hector Vergara, the executive director of the Manitoba Soccer Association, said the big unknown is when Phase Two will actually come into effect.

“Every provincial organization in the province of Manitoba, which is over 70 sports or so, needs to create and establish a plan to return to participation,” said Vergara.

He added that the Manitoba Soccer Association is working with Canada Soccer and other provincial bodies to develop a plan. Once developed, there are several levels it will have to go through to be approved, including health officials in Manitoba.

With no timeline on when Phase Two will come into effect, Vergara said they would give all members two weeks notice before activities resume.

“Well, right now, we’ve said it and we provided an update to the membership yesterday, that central soccer, in-person sanctioned soccer activities are right now postponed at least until June 7,” he said.

Vergara said it is important to get sports back, not only for physical reasons but for mental as well. He added that everyone, from players and coaches to referees, wants to play again.

“We’re happy to see that the provincial authorities are going to allow team sports to come back. But we’re very happy that they’re insisting that it has to be meeting some protocols that will allow everyone to participate in a safe environment and ensure that the kids and adults who are playing the game are feeling that they can do so without any concerns,” he said.

The Manitoba government previously indicated the second phase would start no earlier than June 1, but a date has not been finalized.

The province said it is following guidelines from public health officials on when the second phase will go into effect.