Spring is coming, and all of us at OFC cannot wait to get back outdoors and back playing soccer in some sort of normal fashion. This is always a great time of the soccer year in The Okanagan as we look forward to the end of a long Winter of training indoors, and the beginning of our fantastic outdoor playing season. This year, of course, Covid has made Winter seem even longer….and the return to “distance training” when the second wave began to kick in, was difficult.
It is just about exactly one year ago that all soccer activity in Canada was shut down…March 13th 2020. We were shut down completely for 3 months and lost our entire Spring season. At that time in 2020 Okanagan FC had registered 111 OFC full time Youth and Development Team players onto the Spring Program. We had formed 3 Youth Teams and 4 Development Teams. Our OFC Academy had registered 53 players for supplementary training. Our Men’s Senior Team was ready for a second season in The PCSL with a squad of 25 players.
We decided from the beginning that we would double our efforts during Covid times, find different ways to keep the players engaged, increase our profile within the soccer community, and try to the best of our ability to continue providing quality programming within whatever restrictions given to us by Dr. Henry. We knew that it would require hard work and a lot of effort but we were determined not to lose the forward momentum that the club had gained during the previous year.
Where are we now ? Exactly one year later and at the same point in our registration cycle…Okanagan FC, at the time of writing, has 154 OFC full time Youth and Development Team players registered onto our 2021 Spring Program. This will be formed into 4 Youth Teams and 5 Development Teams. Our OFC Academy has 127 players registered for supplementary training. Our U21 Men and U21 Women’s programs have been formed, and we have added a Women’s Senior Program to our Men’s Program. Our club has grown considerably during the Covid year.
What do we expect for the Spring season ? None of us know for certain, but it seems reasonable to predict that PHO restrictions will begin to ease as we move into Spring. We can anticipate a gradual return to play, with emphasis on the word ‘gradual’. It seems likely that youth soccer will return quicker than adult soccer. We believe that restrictions being lifted will look similar to what it looked like in Fall last year…we got some contact training back first, followed by inter squad matches, followed by cohorts with other local clubs. The timeline for these measures being lifted ?….probably starting to coincide with a general moving from indoors to outdoors, and all depending on the success of the BC vaccination program. We believe that the return of fully competitive league and tournament play will be a little while yet and, at OFC, we are keeping our fingers crossed for Summer for that.
Our Spring Phase starts in two weeks and our OFC Youth and Development Teams will begin to move outdoors. All of those teams will then train 3 times per week for the duration of Spring. In a normal Spring season, we would be aiming for 15-20 competitive matches for each of these teams in addition to their training program….this year we will be doing our best with whatever is allowed. Our U21 Teams, Men and Women will also begin training at the start of the Spring season. This is now called our Senior Development Program. Our Senior Men and new Senior Women’s Teams have begun registering for evaluations but those teams will need to wait for Dr. Henry’s permission to proceed….we are super excited for that and keeping our fingers crossed that it wont be too long