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With COVID-19, how will students play in intramural leagues this Fall?

According to the University of Ottawa, over 8,000 students, employees, and alumni played one of the 45 intramural leagues in the 2019-2020 academic year . 

For the 2020 Fall term, these sports include ultimate frisbee, soccer, hockey, and volleyball. The registration period runs from  Sept. 8, until Sept. 16, with various time slots to register for the different sports. 

In light of a new-look season, Sports Services has released their “Safe Return to Play” guidelines that instruct players on COVID-19 rules. Rosters may have no more than 12 players, an additional 10 minutes between games to allow for adequate sanitization of all equipment, players must arrive only five minutes before their games at the facilities and leave immediately after (except Minto where they must arrive 15 minutes prior).

Teams will be divided into tiers, with around four teams per tier to allow for minimal contact with opposing teams. On each team, it is required to appoint a Team Safety Advisor (TSA) who will enforce physical distancing, check attendance, and ensure every player completed their COVID-19 self-assessment  prior to games and meetings. All Gee-Gees staff will also be equipped with PPE and hand sanitizer at games. 

There are also league-specific rules for this fall including modifications for each sport. Generally speaking, teams will be downgraded to 5v5 or 7v7 for soccer; no sharing of water bottles; no handshakes, high fives, or huddles; the ball or disc will be also be sanitized a couple of times during the game; and players will be mindful of contact during defences. 

However, even with all of the new rules, Ahmed Youssef, a fifth-year biochemistry student, says he is pleased intramurals will continue. 

“[They are] a super important part of the student experience,” he said. “Plus, this upcoming semester of intramurals will be “even more impactful” with the lack of social interaction in recent months.” 

Yet, students should also be aware that “There is a possibility that a league or tier will be paused, suspended, or cancelled due to participants not following protocols, a change in restrictions, or contact tracing” in accordance with Sports Services new guidelines. 

Youssef says  that he has “faith in the University’s health and safety protocols” and hopes that everyone does their part to stay cautious and safe during play.