The current COVID pandemic and its impact on our daily activities continues in manner that none of us truly contemplated a few short months ago. Each of us is adapting to changes in how we go about our work and the daily activities that we engage in our personal time. It has been challenging for all of us, but the resilience of our community is shining through in many ways. WSEU wants to ensure that we are ready and able to support a return to a more normal way of life for our players and families when soccer activities are able to resume. Our Technical Director, Hadyn Sloane-Seale, and Office Administrator, Eliana Vergara, have been busy preparing activities to help your child through this difficult time and ensuring that we are prepared for the resumption of training and league play when that moment arrives. Team rosters have been formed and registered for league play when it occurs and the first of the activity emails went out this week and more will follow in the coming weeks.
We have also begun to receive numerous questions about the 2020 outdoor season, which I will attempt to address below;
- At this point, no one is able to predict whether we will be able to provide for a modified 2020 outdoor league schedule or not. The developmental and premier league schedule normally runs from early May through mid-July, followed by a two week break and resumption of play starting in early August through to about mid-September. The actual end date in September depends on the age group and whether your team participates in playoffs or a season-ending jamboree. It is clear that we will not be able to start the 2020 outdoor season as originally scheduled.
- The decision to suspend all soccer activities was made in mid-March by Canada Soccer and the provincial soccer associations after consultation with health authorities from across the country. That decision was announced subject to periodic reviews by our governance and sanctioning organization (i.e. Canada Soccer and the Manitoba Soccer Association). At this point, I doubt anyone is realistically anticipating that soccer activities will resume prior to the end of May, or more likely the end of June. Given the uncertainty, WSEU is not willing to speculate on a date when we will be able to resume play. At this point, WSEU has not been informed by Canada Soccer, the Manitoba Soccer Association or the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association (WYSA) of a potential start date or cancellation of the outdoor season. That is not surprising given the uncertainty of the current situation.
- This uncertainty does not however mean that options for a modified outdoor season are not being considered. Options being evaluated include a shorter outdoor season starting in mid-July or early August and running through August and September with the elimination of playoff rounds to maximize the number of games each team could play. Moving forward with a modified season obviously depends on health authorities easing the current restrictions on group activities. That determination will rightfully be made by the medical experts that we are relying on to guide us through this pandemic. Depending on the timelines imposed by our provincial authorities, it may become necessary at some point to cancel the 2020 outdoor season entirely.
- A shorter outdoor season will of course have a different cost structure for the soccer club. We anticipate that fees imposed on the soccer club by the WYSA League, Soccer Canada, Manitoba Soccer Association for registration, sanctioning, insurance and league play will be pro-rated accordingly. We trust that you are able to understand that WSEU has already invested in equipment, uniforms and other preparations for the 2020 outdoor season. Those expenditures occurred prior to the suspension of soccer activities in mid-March, while other expenditures related to our facilities and staffing costs continue. Together these costs represent a considerable portion of the annual operating expense for your community-based not-for-profit soccer club.
- The total cost for a modified outdoor season will not be known until a decision has been made regarding modification or cancellation of 2020 outdoor season. When that decision is made, appropriate refunds will be processed for all players registered at WSEU for the 2020 outdoor season.
The volunteer board at WSEU is presently examining options for support from various federal and provincial programs for addressing our costs in a COVID-19 shortened or cancelled outdoor season. It will however take some weeks to understand precisely what type of funding support is available for sustaining our community-based organization. In the meantime, we request your patience and appreciate your recognition that we are aware of the situation and striving to act in the best interests of our players and families through this difficult situation.
To be clear, WSEU is not advocating for restrictions to be lifted prematurely. Our first concern is the safety of our players, families, officials, staff and volunteers, and we will follow the direction and guidance provided by health authorities and our governance associations. Please stay safe and continue to follow the instructions from our health authorities.
On behalf of the WSEU Board,
Dale Friesen, President
Winnipeg South-End United Soccer Club