As the COVID-19 rules have recently changed, Tillsonburg FC has been getting outside for some inter-squad soccer and training.
“We’re trying to have 10-player teams. They play 6vs6, five and the goalie,” said Tillsonburg FC president Mark Locker. “There’s a few that don’t make, that’s why we have so many per team. We’ve got a schedule so everybody knows when to come.
“So this is where we’re at – this is our second night. We’ve had a couple training nights, trying to see who would come. We got our documentation done with Ontario Soccer, so we’re all good.”
All players signed in Friday for tracing purposes, temperatures were taken, and mandatory hand sanitizer was in place.
Players included those from the U16 Whitecaps team based in Tillsonburg, which would have been playing in a summer league against teams from Kitchener, Waterloo, Sarnia, Windsor and more.
“They released them back to us, which is awesome,” said Locker. “We really love that we’re part of their organization. That was a huge step forward for us.”
Players also came from the U17 team based out of Tillsonburg that would have been playing in the same league.
“Some of them are here, some of them are not,” said Locker. “That team is basically a mixture of Tillsonburg and Ingersoll kids.
“We’re super happy,” Locker added. “We’re going in the right direction. We’re making sure Tillsonburg’s back on the map again, thanks to a couple things… thanks to the Whitecaps, which I’m sure is helping us get players. It’s been really good for us.”
Friday’s players also came from the Tillsonburg Fourth Division team, Second Division, Premier team, and Masters team.
All were ready to play again, even small-scale games.
“This year got cancelled – for everybody,” said Locker. “We were shut down by Ontario Soccer… until about a month ago, then we were allowed to go back in what they called Stage 1, which was Stage 2 for the province. But we decided to wait until about two week ago when they went to our Stage 2, but Stage 3 for the province.”
At Stage 1, they could not have organized practices.
“There was a lot of us going out to certain parks in town, trying to get back outside off the couches,” laughed Locker, who plays over-35 masters.
“Then we started this. We had a good foundation of young players, and some of us older guys that still want to try and play.”
He said the goal is to stay competitive with cities who are doing the same thing.
“They are doing the same thing we are with training and inter-squad games. If they ever do open up (this fall) then we could start to do exhibitions with other clubs. That’s what we’re hoping… but right now we’re only allowed inter-squad.
“This here, we’re hoping we can go until the end of October, weather permitted.”