Getting back out on the pitch to have fun was the main goal when a group of volunteers created an adult co-ed soccer league to run this fall.
Joe Estrela, Nuno Francisco, Darnell Bernardo, and Rick Pereria organized a six-on-six recreational league to get athletes active again after months of no activities.
“We were struggling a bit to get going last weekend because of the rain,” Estrela said at the Norfolk County Youth Soccer Park on Friday night. “We got going on Saturday morning and it was really good.”
The league is following Ontario Soccer’s return to play guidelines.
The COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the players include sanitizing the ball, kick-ins instead of throw-ins, no head balls or any other skin contact, distancing on the bench, and only six people per team on the field at a time.
“Since you follow most of the protocols at work, it’s pretty easy,” said Jason Lingard of Simcoe, a member of the Green team. “Wearing your mask, social distancing, it’s all pretty simple now.”
Eryn Stanley, a member of the Blue team, said it has become a “second nature” to follow COVID-19 protocols.
During the Blue and Green game, there were a few calls of people heading the ball as players are still working to get used to the new rules.
“After last Saturday, me and the other referee met up and we were talking about how it went,” said Estrela.
He added there were some discrepancies with how the games were being called surrounding the new rules, and they are working to sort those out.
“The biggest thing is that people want to get out and play, so we’re going to follow the rules in place so we can play,” said Lingard.
The athletes have gone through an adjustment period from staying at home during the shutdown to getting back out and being active.
“After the first game, you play on adrenaline, but the next day is when you realize that being sedentary on the couch since this prolonged March break for the kids is hard,” said Lingard. “You need these recreational things for adults.
“With the arena being shut down and no adult rec leagues this is a great outlet, people have been missing it so much, they’re excited to get out and you can tell by the sheer number of people we have.”
The league has 64 co-ed participants with a total of six teams.
“It’s the first co-ed experience we’ve had in this area in a long time,” said Stanley. “I think typically they would do this with the younger ages. It’s just a neat experience, I’ve never played on a co-ed team and I’ve played soccer for 25 years now. It’s nice to see all of the different skill levels come out.”
On Friday night Blue team won 4-0 over Green, Grey took down Yellow in a 6-2 match, and White won 3-0 over Red.
More information on the league, team rosters, and updated scores can be found on the