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Here’s how BIFC is making spring soccer happen

Adult leagues dependent on restrictions lightening
Kids running after a soccer ball
Above: BIFC players in October when the province was under phase two of BC Soccer’s Return to Play guidelines. Phase two allows for limited contact while under phase one (the current phase) kids must stay three metres apart from one another.

Registration is open for Bowen Island Football Club’s spring programming, scheduled to start April 5.

As phase one of BC Soccer’s Return to Play restrictions stretch into their fourth month (mandating three metre physical distancing and no spectators), here’s how Bowen Island Football Club is keeping the soccer balls rolling. 

Since December, when the province imposed the latest round of sports restrictions, BIFC youth players have been able to do socially distanced training. 

“We create grids for them to train in,” explains BIFC general manager Morgan Quarry. “It’s one of those sort of ironies where it’s actually very good for their development.

“They get a lot of touches on the ball, there’s a lot of dribbling, there’s a lot of ball mastery work. We’re still able to get them to exercise but there’s no contact with one another.”

BIFC has been able to do a little bit with some of the younger players but it’ll be when the weather gets better that the program will open to all of the Mini House (U-5s and U-8s) and Academy players (a training program open to youth team players). Youth teams’ (U-9 to U-12) registration is set to open in May. 

Should phase one guidelines still be in place come April, the Mini and Academy programs will go ahead with socially distanced training says Quarry. “If it opens up to phase two, which is limited contact, then we’re back to what we were doing in the fall.”

Phase two would mean kids could play some scrimmages and games with limited contact.

“Given the feedback we’ve had from the community, parents really want to get their kids outside and active because they’ve been stuck inside,” says Quarry. Even over the cold winter months, BIFC was getting interest in having the young kids out playing. “So we’re excited to be able to offer that.”

But, for the adults, team sports, indoor or outdoor, are prohibited for people 22 years or older. 

“We’re optimistic that that will change…by the first week of April,” says Quarry. 

Registration is open for both the five-a-side and recreational league.

The other program that’s dependent on restrictions lifting is BIFC’s new rugby program for teenagers, launched last fall. 

“We were approached by some people who were unable to play rugby anywhere. It was completely unavailable to them, even off island,” says Quarry. “And [the program] was extremely popular.” 

The coed inaugural program had about 22 participants.

There’s been something of a cap on Bowen when it comes to sports for teenagers, says Quarry. Teams go to about 13 or 14 and then once high school hits, kids have to go off-island to pursue their sports. 

The eight-week spring rugby program with two sessions a week, is set to start April 5. Two Bowen-raised coaches with more than a decade of rugby experience behind them – including playing the sport in university – Ayden Radley and Davin Killy are heading up BIFC’s newest program. 

BIFC started out as a sport society (not exclusively a soccer non-profit), Quarry notes. “So for us to be able to offer something like rugby, which appeals to a group of kids that we just simply haven’t been able to provide programming for, was exciting.”

Because of the nature of rugby, the program needs the limited contact allowed in phase two of the Return-to-Play guidelines.  

For more information and to access registration, visit the club’s brand new website at