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The level of interest in returning to play dropped off, however, if the season would have to be extended into the spring. If only practices were allowed, 55 per cent of respondents said they would be interested in extending the season through April, and 45 per cent wanted to extend it through May.
The organization’s season typically ends in March, with many members enrolling in other hockey or sports programs in the spring.
“While some would like this season extend, some aren’t interested if we go into April and May. So if we can’t get started right away, it gives us some guideposts for how we continue to operate into the spring,” Kobelka said.
On Friday, the Alberta government announced it would begin to ease some public-health restrictions starting Feb. 8. That includes kids’ sports, but only when related to school activities like physical education classes.
A further easing of restrictions related to youth sports could be introduced as early as March 1, if Alberta’s COVID-19 hospitalizations count drops below 450 by then. As of Friday, there were 594 Albertans receiving hospital care for the virus.
Kobelka said his organization was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, saying the group had worked hard to introduce protocols for safe play.
“We also understand that there are health concerns, and we want to be part of the solution. We just feel the youth are getting hurt in this whole thing and we feel from a mental and physical well-being, they need to get active,” he said.