With the end of March approaching the days are getting longer and the light at the end of the COVID tunnel is brighter than ever. We are not out of the woods yet, but all of our adult members will be eligible for vaccinations starting March 31st which is a great first step back to normalcy. This year will (obviously) be different than a normal year, with our focus being solely on the club, and with the weather getting warmer we want to get started with COVID-sensitive practices as soon as we are able to do so.
What Are We Waiting For?
Getting back on the pitch requires a space to do so, and in order to reserve fields this year we are required to have a COVID-19 event plan approved by the Marion County Health Department. We submitted our event plan in February and are still waiting on their response. With COVID-19 tracking, the NCAA tournament, vaccine distribution, and our planned start date, the health department has not been able to review/approve our plan yet, but they anticipate that they will be able to shortly.
After our plan is approved we plan to host socially distanced practices until it is safe to introduce contact, with a target start date of some time in April. Prior to the first practice we will be sending out information outlining our safety policies/protocols. Keep in mind that there will likely be some minor procedures/pre-checks that we’ll need to adhere to (temperature checks, questionnaires, etc.) when attending practices, but it’s a minor inconvenience that’s necessary to help ensure that we provide the safest environment as possible for all of our participants and their friends and loved-ones.
We are optimistic at this point that we’ll be able to return to normal play later this summer with Pub League starting in July. The July start to our leagues should provide us enough time to offer a full season, while also giving us some wiggle room for any adjustments that may need to take place. The delay also allows everyone time to get fully vaccinated, gives players a chance to get back into “game shape” to reduce injuries, and also provides enough time for health recommendations to hopefully allow for more contact.
One of the biggest differences to note this year is that we are not planning to participate in Nationals. This decision allows us to concentrate on our pub league games without requiring us to pause our season to practice and travel for nationals. Another change will be that hurling and Gaelic football will both be played on Sundays. This is because the youth American football season will be taking place at Eugene Burns on weekdays in the summer so Sunday is the only available day for us to reserve the fields.
We are doing our best to host practices and games in a safe way this year. I hope you are excited to get back on the pitch and I look forward to seeing everyone out there. Let’s take this opportunity to focus on our club, our safety, and our camaraderie to keep our club strong and successful for years to come.