Halifax recreational sports up and running after months-long shutdown

Players don't have to wear masks during games, but no celebratory high fives are allowed

Thousands of recreational sports participants in the Halifax region are back playing the games they love, now that strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols are in place.

In early October, Halifax PLAYS, a community, volunteer-run, recreational sports organization, brought back soccer, volleyball, softball, ball hockey and kick ball. Halifax PLAYS had halted most of its sports programs following the COVID-19 outbreak.

“People just want to go out, exercise and have fun,” said Melanie Pedersen, an organizer with Halifax PLAYS and a volleyball program participant.

There are new safety regulations in place. The gathering size cannot be more than 50 people, limiting the number of spectators. Not having friends and family to cheer them on is something that players miss.

“People would drop their husband or wife off and go sit on the stand and wait for them, or kids would come and do their homework while mom was playing or dad was playing,” Pedersen said.

Halifax PLAYS requires participants to sign a waiver and register to participate. Participants are not required to wear masks during games, but masks and social distancing are recommended. Players have to sanitize their hands and disinfect balls between games.

This can be time consuming and it does require participants to plan ahead.

Yolande Comeau doesn’t let that stop her from playing volleyball. The working mother of three children said playing sports is the only time she has for herself. She finds recreational sports are a great way to socialize, destress and improve her physical and mental health.

“I feel way better … (about) everything because of this,” she said.

Players aren’t allowed to high five or help each other up if someone falls.   Leo Bui

Comeau said players find the hardest part is not being able to approach sports like before. For example, players used to give out high fives when someone made a good play. If someone fell during a game, there would be someone to pick them up.

“That’s a big issue I have, because you want to help someone if they’re on the floor, or you want to congratulate them,” Comeau said.

Now, players are required to play with minimal to no contact at all. Comeau said she has to physically stop herself from giving high fives, and that she is trying to reprogram her brain to do so.

Pedersen is happy the sports programs are operating again.

“We just want to get out on the court and play again,” she said.

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