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ROBIN SHORT: How-to-play clarifications needed before Challenge Cup/Jubilee Trophy players get their kicks

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Challenge Cup/Jubilee Trophy soccer players could find out when they can start to play as early as Sunday, as the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association weighs its options under current COVID-19 restrictions. — Telegram file photo
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Challenge Cup/Jubilee Trophy soccer players could find out when they can start to play as early as Sunday, as the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association weighs its options under current COVID-19 restrictions. — Telegram file photo

The St. John’s Molson Senior Men’s Softball League is finally getting going with its 64th season soon, opening day set for tomorrow, Sunday, July 5, at Lions Park.

The last (only) time the circuit kicked off a new season this late (in July) was in 1958.

But perhaps it’s better late than never in these pandemic times.

Over the road, at St. Pat’s Ball Park and the home of the St. John’s Amateur Baseball Association, two senior games are scheduled for next Saturday, July 11, as the league celebrates another opening day since its 1947 revival.

So, what about the province’s top soccer leagues, the Johnson Insurance Challenge Cup men’s circuit and Breen’s Jubilee Trophy women’s loop?

Things aren’t so crystal clear.

But the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) might have a better idea Sunday night following a meeting of the board.

Turns out when the provincial government announced the COVID-19 Alert Level 2 guidelines a couple of weeks ago, there was a clause prohibiting competition amongst teams from different communities.

That’s a problem for Challenge Cup, for example, which has teams in St. John’s (Holy Cross and Feildians), St. Lawrence, Paradise and C.B.S.

But Sport Newfoundland and Labrador members and government officials huddled to work out a revision to Alert Level 2 Sport Guidance documents so as to allow for community-based competition.

But the NLSA has gone back to government seeking some clarifications regarding how the game can be played this season.

Specifically, some hot-button topics are how to handle corner kicks — so as to limit the number of players gathered together — and throw-ins, so as to limit the number of players touching the ball.

In Ontario, for example, there’s a rule in place now that permits only four players from each team in the 18-yard box on corner kicks. In P.E.I., the ball cannot be above a player’s waist on corners.

“We’re not far away (from resolutions) and we’re hoping for some answers so we can go to our members Sunday to discuss where we’re headed and how we’ll approach things doing so,” said NLSA president Doug Redmond.

Whenever Challenge Cup and Jubilee Trophy players get on the pitch, it will mark the first time in a long while soccer’s started this late in Newfoundland.

But the NLSA has time on its side, as the men’s and women’s playoffs can be stretched into late August, September or even the Oct. 7-12 Thanksgiving Day weekend.

That’s because Canada Soccer has cancelled the 2020 Toyota national championships.

The Challenge Cup and Jubilee Trophy nationals were set for Halifax, while Moncton, N.B. and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., were set to stage the under-15 and U-17 nationals (respectively) this year.

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email robin.short@thetelegram.com Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort

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