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OPFL Return to Play

OPFL Return to Play Plan will help you understand the programing options available to our Club Centers at each Step of the Ontario reopening plan. The OPFL and its members will align and follow the public health and safety measures in Step 1 are set out as set out in section 45(7) of Ontario Regulation 82/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN SHUTDOWN ZONE AND AT STEP 1. Without a formal notification from the ministry to the health units, municipalities or public, we are being extremely diligent in following these directives for the safety of our players and volunteers. Thinking long term, being health focused is an important part of the brand of the OPFL – from COVID protocols to ENK safe contact training and training on head injuries and recovery – it is important for the OPFL to be health oriented and putting the wellbeing of our young athletes first. Should additional written directives be provided by the Ministry or the public or municipal health units, or should the regulations be revised or amended, we will update our plan accordingly. 

Good news is that as of July 2nd, we will be resuming football activities!

STEP 1Outdoor training only. During this Step, participants allowed are a maximum of 10 people in any group activity (ex: 9 players, 1 coach) and participants must maintain physical distance of at least three metres from any other person.  

Porcupine Health Unit (which includes Timmins, Cochrane, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Moosonee and surrounding areas) will remain in lockdown at the discretion of their Medical Officer of Health until at least June 25. Activities therefore remain suspended in this region.

STEP 2:  Outdoor training and/or non contact football (Internal programing). We are awaiting further details on specific restrictions and guidelines that will be in place, but we are anticipating restricted numbers, physical distancing, and other restrictions. This 3-week phase will allow players to resume activities in a progressive way to prevent injuries and get ready for step 3.

STEP 3:  Non-contact or Contact Football (Competition programing). We are awaiting further details on specific restrictions and guidelines that will be in place, but we are anticipating no restrictions on participant numbers, continued physical distancing and other restrictions, and we are also anticipating return to contact football. As such we have mapped out 3 possible scenarios that will be based on if tackle is allowed and if High School football will resume.

Scenario A – No Contact football allowed: 9 week program of non-contact football including regional games, jamboree and bowl.

Youth Divisions will follow Scenario C for a 14 week program.

Scenario B – Contact Football allowed AND High School football resumes: Our 9-week program of contact football including jamboree, tournament format games and bowl, would allow players to participate in OPFL programing and finish in time to compete with their high school teams. *This programming is subject to change when we receive formal confirmation on high school programs start dates .

Scenario C - Contact Football allowed AND HS football DOES NOT resume: 14-week program including jamboree, regional season games, semi-final bowls and bowl challenge

IMPORTANT NOTE: With each health unit and municipality may have additional restrictions that may impact a Club Center’s football operations and we will keep you updated on what Club Centers will be participating in the OPFL 2021 modified season.

The age divisions for 2021 for the OPFL are:

  • Tyke: Players born in 2013, 2014​
  • Atom: Players born in 2011, 2012​
  • PeeWee: Players born in 2009, 2010​
  • Bantam: Players born in 2007, 2008​
  • Junior Varsity: Players born in 2005, 2006​
  • Varsity: Players born in 2002, 2003, 2004

Why is Flag/Touch Football a good alternative while we wait for the return of Tackle Football?

Become and Stay Physically Fit! By participating on a OPFL team, athletes have the opportunity to stay in shape while engaging in an exciting sport. Playing flag/touch football is a great way to blast calories, tone and expand muscles, and work towards a healthier lifestyle.

Develop New Skills! Playing flag/touch football requires athletes to effectively communicate with both teammates and coaches.  Teamwork is a very important skill involved in football that challenges athletes in drills and team activities. Youth football will also assist in the development of social skills in younger athletes, a vital skill used in the classroom and on the field.

Improve Mental Health! Being surrounded by supportive teammates and coaches can add a sense of mental well-being to athletes involved in the OPFL.  Studies have shown that athletes involved in team sports tend to have better work ethics, organizational skills, and problem-solving abilities. Positive effects on mood and self-esteem can come from being involved in flag/touch football.

It’s Fun! Having fun is what flag/touch football is all about. This competitive sport allows athletes of all ages to come together and strive towards a common goal. The OPFL Club Centers are focused on creating an engaging atmosphere for athletes through games, practices and tournament events.

What if I have never played? Compared to some other sports, flag/touch football does not require much experience. While different levels of competitiveness may require different knowledge of the sport, in its basic form, flag/touch football can be played by anyone, with the stress of competitive tackle football. With different positions available, there is a spot for even for some completely unfamiliar with the sport.

What about linemen? You can also participate in flag/touch football! But stay tuned as we are working on some Big Man Camps as well.