After several summers without organized sports, Special Olympics Airdrie is bringing back four programs starting in May.
After their winter program, Special Olympics Airdrie (SOA) is back this spring and summer, offering their beginner and intermediate athletes softball, bocce and golf.
According to SOA media relations coordinator Sue Fillatres-Farkas, football has been officially canceled this season.
The organization held its winter programs under COVID-19 safety guidelines, but was closed after a bowling session, Fillatres-Farkas said.
Summer programs are scheduled to begin in May. So far, about 65 athletes have registered.
Fillatres-Farkas said the SOA is still down in registrations compared to pre-COVID-19 years, but they have seen many athletes return to sports programs and have even accepted new registrations.
“We went from 80 to something [registrants]we were down in the winter and now our numbers are moving in the right direction,” she said.
There are currently no tournaments scheduled with other Special Olympics affiliates for 2022, as it remains unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out during the warmer months.
In the past, SOA athletes have traveled to different parts of Alberta to compete in tournaments and Airdrie has also hosted its fair share. In the winter, athletes competed in a virtual bowling tournament just to keep things interesting, Fillatres-Farkas said.
“We’re trying to do our best at this point,” she said.
This year’s programs will focus heavily on teaching athlete skill development and relearning sports, since the SOA was unable to run the programs last summer, Fillatres-Farkas said. .
She believes it is very important to maintain the programs in place for athletes in the community and surrounding areas.
“Not only are they friends, but they’re almost like each other’s family and the fact that they haven’t been able to see each other and they’ve just been able to have this team atmosphere – I think that’ they were definitely missing that,” Fillatres-Farkas mentioned.
She hopes that as they are able to invite athletes back into the program and add new people to the club, the programs will grow again.
Intermediate and Novice softball will begin on May 4. It will take place every Wednesday evening at Meadowbrook School and will continue until July 27. Golf will take place every Thursday night at the Collicutt Golf Course from May 27 through August 18. Athletes will play Pétanque every Monday evening from May 30 to July 25 at Nose Creek Park. Interested participants can contact the SOA for more details and information on registration fees for each program.
Golf clubs and balls will be provided by the golf course, but athletes are encouraged to bring their own equipment if they have it. For softball, athletes must provide their own glove, but helmets are provided and are mandatory when hitting.
“Routine for our athletes is so important and socialization [aspect]said Fillatres-Farkas. ” Right now, [we are] focusing on sports and hopefully in the future we can get our athletes involved in community events again.
In recent years, athletes have participated in community fundraisers and summer events, she explained.