Disappointment for thousands of Island kids as spring sports leagues postponed

WatchThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused amateur sports leagues across Vancouver Island to postpone their seasons leaving many kids disappointed. April Lawrence reports.

Playing catch in the back yard with his dad is about as close to little league practice as View Royal’s Nolan Williams can get these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the baseball season on hold indefinitely.

“It’s kind of disappointing,” said the 11-year-old. “I wish I could practice and see the team.”

But for Williams, it isn’t just any season he’s missing. After four years of planning and preparing, Layritz is set to host the 2020 Canadian Little League Championships this August and now many are worried it will be cancelled.

“I am sad for those kids because this could have been a really really memorable experience for them,” said Layritz tournament chair Shannon Nakatsu.

And while it’s a particularly tough situation for those in Layritz Little League, they aren’t alone in their disappointment.

Whether it’s baseball, soccer, football, lacrosse or ball hockey, thousands of Vancouver Island kids are missing out on their favourite spring sport this year.

“We’re hoping that something will happen, they just have to hang in there, hopefully, they’re practicing their shots at home and doing what they can to stay occupied,” said Greater Victoria Minor Ball Hockey Association President Brett Barlow.

Then there are the elite players who were hoping to use this season to get noticed and maybe land a scholarship.

“Our concern is those Grade 10s and 11s that were going to be starting that process but again because everyone is in the same situation I’m sure it’ll be a new normal when we come back,” said Lower Island Soccer Coach Andrew Latham.

Many leagues have already incurred costs for things like facility rentals, uniforms and new equipment and most families have already paid registration fees. But no one knows if there will be a shortened season or no season at all.

“From a kid’s perspective it’s got to be way more difficult because they don’t see the huge picture that we as adults obviously do,” said Nakatsu.

And there’s no question those who run these leagues get it.

“It is only sport there are other things out there, we can use sport as a vehicle but people’s health and people’s well being are much more important,” said Latham.

READ MORE: COVID-19 deaths in B.C. now at 35, hospitalizations down

Williams gets it too.

“I’m disappointed that baseball is postponed because of COVID, but I understand why it’s happening and has to happen,” he said.

For now, everyone just waits to see when and if public health officials decide group sports can resume.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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