Soccer balls got a COVID-19 precautionary cleaning by Azad Palani at a Langley United Soccer Association training session at Willoughby park in July 2020. (file)

Soccer balls got a COVID-19 precautionary cleaning by Azad Palani at a Langley United Soccer Association training session at Willoughby park in July 2020. (file)

In-house play welcomed after months of practices

Langley United Soccer Association president Marcel Horn said a few teams returned to the field for in-house action on Saturday (May 29), just days after the province eased some COVID-19 restrictions, and all players will be back by Saturday, June 5.

For LUSA, the restart plan means an end to the rule of distanced practices only and limitations to youths only, rules which have been in place since last November.

“In training, the kids are happy. In playing they are jubilant,” Horn said.

Not all restrictions are lifting at once.

The 1,600 players in LUSA, across more than 200 teams, will primarily be playing each other.

Horn said registration was up a “stunning” 18 per cent this spring.

“We got a couple of games in the beginning of the season, and since then it’s been shut down,” said Mark Parker, LUSA technical director

“Everything will be in-house,” Parker said.

They won’t be playing teams from Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, or Surrey just yet.

LUSA filed its safety plan paperwork with the Township of Langley on May 27.

The Township announced it is working with individual sports groups as it reviews updated safety plans.

“Some are faster than others for resubmitting them, but we are working to review and approve them as they come in,” an unnamed Township spokesperson said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley United Soccer Association holds virtual awards night

ViaSport has issued a checklist for B.C. leagues and teams: maintain communication with stakeholders; consult local health authorities; connect with facility operators; and encourage members to remain active while enjoying the outdoors.

Health officials set in motion a four-step restart plan on May 25, which is dependant upon declining hospitalization rates and increasing vaccinations.

Indoor fitness facilities are able to re-open Tuesday with mask-wearing, physical distancing and protocols in place prior to COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions.

Starting June 15, B.C. residents will see more changes as health officials expect more than 65 per cent of the province’s eligible population to be inoculated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

READ ALSO: 50 people expected to be able to attend B.C. sports games this summer

By then, indoor sports games are expected to resume along with high-intensity fitness classes – including martial arts, gymnastics, bodybuilding, dance and cheerleading classes.

Up to 50 people will be able to attend games, outside or indoors.

Spectator restrictions will be eradicated as early as Sept. 7 if all goes as planned and 70 per cent of B.C.’s eligible population is vaccinated by then, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“We have been on a long and tiring journey, and now we can start to chart our path forward to brighter days ahead,” Henry said.

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