WEATHER ALERT

Late, wet spring delays sporting events

Cold weather, saturated playing fields keep athletes waiting

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Kent Kamenz has been the regional director for Slo-Pitch National in Manitoba for more than 20 years. But owing to the province’s never-ending winter, this season will begin later than in any other year he can recall (the 2020 pandemic year not included, of course).

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/04/2022 (281 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Kent Kamenz has been the regional director for Slo-Pitch National in Manitoba for more than 20 years. But owing to the province’s never-ending winter, this season will begin later than in any other year he can recall (the 2020 pandemic year not included, of course).

Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

“Truthfully, we were supposed to have our very first tournament this weekend. Obviously, that was cancelled about three weeks ago because we saw the writing on the wall,” Kamenz told the Free Press.

Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association director Scott Dixon on saturated field at South Winnipeg Community Centre. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

“So, this weekend and next weekend were supposed to be our first two weekends for tournaments, you know, get the teams out there and get them kind of ready for their leagues. We’ve obviously cancelled those two and now we’ve pushed everything back to May 14 and May 15 for tournaments.

“But for the leagues, they’ve already pushed things back at least one more week and they’ll play it by ear of course to see what happens in the next little while.”

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over. But with no health restrictions in Manitoba, things were to be quite a bit easier for local sports organizers. But an extended winter has changed all that.

“I’ve talked to some of the league convenors, and they’ve actually be really good about it. They said, ‘You know, we’ve had to deal with COVID, and this is just one more shot at us,’ even though they’re not related, of course,” Kamenz said.

“But everyone’s been good about it. Everyone’s just waiting to get back onto the fields and playing the game that they love.”

That includes kids, who seemingly can’t catch a break with COVID-19 interruptions and now weather getting in the way. The Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association (WYSA) was forced to push its season back until at least May 9.

“I don’t know if you recall last year, but we had all that smoke here from the fires from a province over. I don’t like using this phrase, but it was true, it was almost a perfect storm. We finally got the OK to kick off after pushing things and adjusting, and then we had to cancel the first night cause of smoke,” WYSA executive director Scott Dixon said this week.

“I can’t help but chuckle a little bit when things are moving back and there’s another Colorado low on the way. I don’t know why the soccer gods have it out for us, but we’re doing our best.”

Luckily for Dixon, the soccer parents recognize that.

“For the most part, everyone understands, especially with how we were able to deliver the message as well, because we consulted with the city and our member clubs to make sure that the fields are ready,” Dixon said.

“So, the information that we provided to the soccer community was based on consulting with the people who are in the trenches, so to speak, who are involved with the fields day to day. It was received well.”

Last year, the WYSA had just 40 per cent of its usual registration number. But participation has returned to normal levels in 2022, which makes sitting on the sidelines this time around even more frustrating.

“We don’t want our players to go out there if the fields aren’t ready. Their safety is No. 1, right? So, we need to make sure we’re good to go before we proceed,” said Dixon.

“Administratively, it’s been a bit of a crunch, unfortunately. You have your set timelines and then you’re adjusting with so many teams and so many convenors. But the soccer community, I gotta say, they’re so unbelievably resilient. They proved last year with COVID, we pushed our kickoff back probably six or seven times… and we made it work so I’m hoping the one week delay this year is easy for them.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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