Youth sports groups urge Alberta government to allow more in-person recreation

CALGARY — Youth sports groups are raising concerns about the possible long-term mental and physical impacts the current Alberta health restrictions will have on children.

Several coaches and trainers from various sports, including dance, Jiu Jitsu, hockey and more say the provincial government should ease restrictions on indoor sports and allow teams and groups to gather. They believe they can restart sports safely.

“Our facility is so much more than just dance,” said Erika Serbu with Absolute Dance Inc.

“It’s inspiring youth, it’s leading youth into their communities, it’s sharing, it’s teamwork.”

But Serbu said it’s difficult to provide those things virtually. The Absolute Dance coaches have pivoted to provide dance classes online, but she says the important social interaction of in-person classes is missed.

“The experience is certainly very different doing something through the lens versus in person, but we do want to keep that connection going,” she said.

Erica Serbu, Absolute Fitness

Alberta has a plan to ease health restrictions, starting as early as Feb. 8, but gyms and recreation facilities will only be open to one-on-one training. Group and team sports will not be allowed until steps two and three of Alberta’s plan.

“Our kids are at an all-time low for physical well being right now. I feel like we’re kind of losing them to the iPad a little bit,” said Dr. Greg Uchacz, a chiropractor with ProActive Health Group.

“The reality is we need physical activity to help our kids to grow.”

Hockey Calgary cancelled the rest of its 2020-‘21 season on Tuesday. The organization is working on refunds for associations and plans to release more information by the end of the week.

Hockey Calgary is also exploring whether it can launch spring development sessions when health guidelines allow it.

“We feel youths have been hurt in this whole process,” said Kevin Kobelka with Hockey Calgary.

“We feel that being part of athletics is good for their physical and mental well being and that hasn’t been be able to happen to the levels it has in the past.”



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