The first stage of Ontario’s reopening is bringing back some forms of organized play, a relief for kids who’ve felt cooped up during the last several months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karina Dobson, 14, said she’s excited to get to play ultimate and see her friends again as summer begins.
“Personally, I hate staring at a computer for, like, six hours on end. It’s so exhausting,” Dobson said. “After I play ultimate, I feel a lot calmer and more focused.”
Charlie Lumley said he’s been pretty bored at home and is glad he’ll get to throw the disc around with his friends, even though scrimmages and full games aren’t allowed under the current rules.
“It’s still pretty fun just to do something,” Lumley said. “I’m just excited to get back to playing it and get some exercise.”
The Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association said it’s at just under half its usual enrolment as the first practice drills get underway this week, although they anticipate numbers will go up over the summer.
Full practices still aren’t allowed, but up to 10 people can train together while staying three metres apart.
The association is trying to make players feel at ease as they return to the field, said Karlis Bouse, a board member and coach.
“It’s a bit of a rebuild for a lot of sports, a lot of programming,” Bouse said. “We want to ensure that people feel safe, they feel comfortable, they feel welcome getting back to sport.”
Bouse said many parents have talked about their kids hanging out in the basement for long stretches of the pandemic, and how important it is for them to get active again.
“Getting them back outside again, seeing people, getting some exercise, it’s not just the physical health,” he said. “It’s the psychological, the emotional, the social and the mental health.”
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said one of the things she’s most looking forward to in this stage of reopening is being able to take her own children to the park to see other kids.
“Make use of these outdoor opportunities to be together with friends,” she urged. “I think this is something the youth have been missing. And we see the benefit.”
Ottawa Public Health has advised in the past that while distanced sports activities are relatively safe, people have to be cautious about maintaining a safe distance when travelling to and from those activities, as well as during any breaks.