Under the watchful eyes of coach Brett Fitzpatrick (left), Joshua Vandenberg (centre), 11, and Tyson Stenhouse, nine, play a game of catch as Vernon Minor Football kicked off its return-to-play training sessions Tuesday, Aug. 4, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Minor Football kicks off 2020 preparations

Training started Tuesday, Aug. 4, under strict COVID protocols at Greater Vernon Athletic Park

No pads. No helmets. No problem.

Vernon and District Minor Football has kicked off its 2020 preparations after receiving approval for its return-to-play training.

“Basically we’ve been in a holding pattern since COVID hit and we haven’t been able to run any programs,” said president Mark Budgen at the first gathering of kids and coaches Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Greater Vernon Athletic Park at Okanagan College.

The association cancelled its successful and popular summer flag football program due to COVID.

“We got our return to play program approved and now we have resumed training,” said Budgen, adding strict COVID protocols are in place.

“We have hand sanitizing. Kids are asked a series of questions when they enter the facility. Temperatures are being taken, and we are maintaining social distancing. Cones are set up where kids will go to their cones at the water breaks in order to maintain social distancing.”

While this is a positive start for the local association, it’s still unclear when or if a full tackle season will take place in the Southern Interior Football Association.

“We are still waiting to see what’s going to happen,” said Budgen. “Viasport (B.C. governing body) is still working out rules and regulations that we would have to abide to have game play.”

Vernon Minor Football is for boys and girls aged 8-13. Kids 8 and 9 will play in the Atom Division; 9- and 10-year-olds are in the Peewee group; and the 12- and 13-year-olds play in the Junior Bantam Division.

Budgen said there’s room for more players and no experience is necessary.

“We’re always looking to find new players,” he said. “We have about 40 registered right now and there’s room for players and coaches for up to 100. Part of the social distancing is we can’t have groups of more than 50. Fortunately, we have two fields here at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. That allows us to run up to 50 people each time.”

The only way to register, which is part of minor football’s return to play program, is online. You can do so at vdmfa.ca.

Practices currently run Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. at GVAP.

Vernon Minor Football would like to give a shout-out to Okanagan Spirits and Pleasant Valley Dentral for siupplying the organization with sanitation, masks and other COVID-19 protocol necessities.

READ MORE: Vernon Minor Football salutes family, fun


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