Young Quebec athletes rejoice, with school sports making a comeback on March 15

Some of the latest changes to Quebec’s restrictions are big news to a lot of young people.

Starting March 15th, school sports will be allowed, Premier François Legault announced Wednesday evening. The province is expected to release specifics on how it will work next week.

The return of sports means much more than just another thing to do during lockdown, said the head of Quebec's student sports federation.

“For a lot of [athletes], sports is a way to pursue their studies, to make sure they have academic success,” said Stephane Boudreau of the federation, called the RSEQ.

“For a lot of them, it’s been very frustrating.”

Many students have not been allowed to practice or compete in their sports for months, and the Liberal critic for sports, Enrico Ciccone, says the CAQ government will now have a lot of work to do.

“We have a lot of catching up to do on kids dropping out of school, obesity, mental health issues," Ciccone said.

"Kids have suicidal thoughts right now because they can’t achieve whatever they [were aiming for] in sports."

For sports leagues that are not affiliated with schools, their future is still unknown, but Wednesday’s announcement is a step in the right direction, some said.

“The big season for us, it’s the summer, and now it’s the time for registration,” said Mathieu Chamberland of Soccer Quebec. 

But others said they're already feeling there’s not enough time left to salvage their season. 

“Our season generally finishes playoffs that [are] wrapped up by beginning of April, mid-April at the latest,” said Andy Brookman of Hockey West Island.

“We’re kind of running out of racetrack here.”

GYMS REMAIN CLOSED IN RED ZONES

The announcement applies to school sports only. In Montreal and the surrounding areas, gyms will remain closed.

But the owner of Jimmies Training Centre in the Town of Mount Royal, which caters to an older clientele, is taking the closure in stride. Ali Le Pierres said she wants to be sure her clients feel safe when they return.

“It’s complex, because if you open, but there’s still a lot of fear around COVID and people don’t come -- that’s going to end up being more harmful than being closed,” Le Pierres said.

“If we’re told to open and the people don’t come, we’re really on our own at that point.”

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