Baseball is among minor sports hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

Surrey sports groups grapple with refunds, registration, restrictions and more

‘Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there’

As return-to-play questions linger due to the COVID-19 pandemic, minor sports organizations in Surrey are grappling with refunds, registration, restrictions, potential rule changes and other issues.

The Surrey Falcons female hockey club opened registration for its 2020-21 season on Sunday (May 31), with a payment plan available.

“Over the next few months we will be busy drafting plans to ensure we create a safe, challenging and fun environment for our kids regardless of what restrictions that may or may not be placed on our season,” association president Gary Mizuno said in a Facebook post. “With this uncertainty we have continued to plan based on a regular season starting date of September 7th.”

For players with Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association, registration for next season opened Monday (June 1).

“We are aware that this season may be different than usual due to Covid-19 reopening plans, and potential resurgence,” says a message posted to the association’s website.

“While it is our intention to give all players as ‘normal’ of a season as possible, we are living in a new normal and that may impact what we can offer this year,” Deanna Cox, CMHA’s new president, said in a post.

With baseball and softball on hold this spring, Surrey-area associations for those sports are looking for a return to play as soon as possible.

On Sunday (May 30), Baseball BC amended its current suspension of in-person baseball activities. “This adjustment relates only to administrative and maintenance operations and does not permit the return of ANY in-person playing activities at this time,” says a memo posted to baseball.bc.ca.

In Cloverdale, the minor baseball board of directors has decided to cancel the spring 2020 season. A modified refund/cancellation policy involves options for an 85-per-cent refund of fees, or 100 per cent deferral of fees toward the 2021 spring season.

“We are hopeful that Baseball BC, BC Minor Baseball, viaSport BC and the Provincial Government will soon provide options for a modified program which may allow us to offer an alternative program in the coming weeks/months,” says a message posted to facebook.com/CloverdaleSpurs.

“The traditional Spring and Summer Programs we are all used to are no longer an option this year due to the current environment and the need to keep our families and communities safe.”

In soccer, Surrey United’s annual general meeting will be held online June 15. The club has opened its 2020-21 fall/winter registration, “with COVID-19 specific registration options in place to help serve our members and their needs,” according to a post at surreyunitedsoccer.com. This follows word that Canada Soccer has approved BC Soccer’s return-to-play plan “and in anticipation of sanctioned soccer restrictions being lifted by the Province and play resuming for the fall/winter season.”

Elsewhere in Surrey, sports organizations are preaching preparation and patience while they await the green light to return to action as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

While fall and winter sports have a bit more of a runway to work with in formalizing plans, sports that would normally be well underway now – from softball and track-and-field to spring soccer programs – have little time to waste.

“We’re just waiting… but once we start up, we’ll go. We’re ready,” said Maureen de St. Croix, the head coach of South Surrey-based Ocean Athletics track and field club.

The competitive track season has already been scrapped, but the club would hold modified practice sessions throughout July and August once allowed.

“Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there,” said de St. Croix. “We’ll have 50 people here already (between athletes and coaches), so you can’t be here – sorry. But we’ll deal with that when we know our date. Hopefully soon we’ll get things back and going.”

Even though the traditional start of the hockey season is still a couple months away, Semiahmoo Minor Hockey has joined a work group with other Lower Mainland minor-hockey associations, where weekly discussions centre on “what the season may or may not look like,” according to Semiahmoo executive director Dave Newson.

Newson said group members have been “working hard to push” facility partners and governing organizations to work together to come up with “creative solutions.”

“There seems to be a real appetite to get kids back to activity. Of course, we all want safety to be the priority, but there is definitely strong demand,” he said.

Newson called progress on a return-to-the-ice plan “encouraging.”

with files from Nick Greenizan, Black Press Media



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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