Club days bring a sense of normalcy back to PAYSA

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Prince Albert Celtic Under-17 boys’ team faced off with a combined Under-15 and Under-17 side from North Battleford on Saturday, June 26 as part of the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association’s club day event.

The end of the 2021 spring soccer season for the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association also marked the return of competitive action for their Celtic programs.

In their first games against teams from other cities since the COVID-19 pandemic started last March, clubs from Warman, North Battleford and Saskatoon came up to Prince Albert to play the Celtic squads over the course of two weekends in June.

“It was a great experience and such a blast for everyone involved with the program,” PAYSA technical director Dragan Ivkovic said on Friday.

“I think for some of our teams, such as our Under-9 and Under-11 programs, it had been 16 months since they had last played a competitive game.”

This year marked a return to outdoor play for PAYSA, who did not take to the pitch in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were able to start their 2020-21 indoor campaign in November, but it quickly came to a halt later that month due to the suspension of sports that came as a result of increased cases in the province.

“Having the training sessions to start off the outdoor season really helped, but you could tell that after a few practices, it became a bit boring for the kids without having the games, though that started to change once we could have house league games again starting on May 31,” Ivkovic said.

“All in all, I would say it was a successful season. I was a little pessimistic at first, but to have games again and those club days really allowed us to finish on a high note. I believe and hope that we can have a regular indoor season again starting in September.”

Ivkovic also wanted to thank the parents and family members of the soccer player in PAYSA for their patience during the last year.

“They were very understanding over everything that we were doing, especially as we followed all of the regulations that we had to go through in order to play,” Ivkovic added.

“Hopefully everything will be back to normal this fall and we can continue to be the biggest soccer club in the province.”

The PAYSA’s office at the Alfred Jenkins Field House will be closed from July 6 to August 9, with registration for their 2021-22 indoor season getting underway once it reopens.