Return to sports | “Encouraging” signals for amateur football

The news is good in Quebec amateur football. After difficult pandemic years, “we are almost seeing a return to 2019 figures in terms of registrations”.

Posted yesterday at 5:15 PM.

Jean-François Teotonio

Jean-François Teotonio
The press

“If we compare ourselves to other years, we are very good,” said Mathieu Chamberland, director of the Quebec Football Federation. We lead the way. Bee [mercredi] morning we had 117,000 registrations. Last year we ended the year with just over 145,000. In 2019, pre-pandemic, we were at 162,000.

At the provincial level, the finding is the same as at the regional level. Especially in the two major associations in the Montreal region.

“We are seeing an increase, an interest,” said Stéphane Clementoni, general manager of the Concordia Regional Soccer Association (ARSC), which covers an area stretching from the commune of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Thanks to Pointe aux Trembles.

“We haven’t returned to pre-pandemic numbers yet,” added George Tissot, CEO of the Lac St-Louis Soccer Association, which covers the west of the island. That said, there is a return to the game that is interesting. We must continue to encourage children to come back to play. †

Of course, this series of calls from The press takes place quite early in the season. Lawns in Quebec are still hidden under snow, slowing down the process. This is especially the case in Quebec.

“There is still a slight delay at the moment,” admits Philippe Bernard of the Regional Football Association of Quebec (ARSQ). This morning I have 18,000 registrations. […] In 2019 I had almost 20,000 players. I am 1900 behind my year 2019.

“But there are several things that explain this. There is still snow in Quebec. It was melting very late this year, and we know the little ones are registering late. […] Normally there is always a small boom after melting. †

Philippe Bernard nevertheless notes “encouraging” signs. “This week I see the number increasing by the day,” he says.

I would really like us to get back on the same level. But realistically, I have the impression that we will lose a total of 500 to 700 members. Which in percentage terms would not be a disaster compared to the years we know.

Philippe Bernard, of the Quebec Regional Football Association

However, there is one region that beats the odds.

“The nice surprise this year was Estrie,” said Mathieu Chamberland of Soccer Québec.

According to statistics provided by Soccer Quebec to: The pressEstrie already has 5,685 registrations, girls and boys, as of April 21. It is 442 more players than for the entire 2021 season. And we have not discovered each other yet.

“It really bodes well,” Chamberland says.

“A cleavage” among girls

What is less is the enrollment rate among girls.

Stéphane Clementoni, from the ARSC, talks about it without being asked directly. “Unfortunately, we feel that there is collateral damage from the pandemic in women’s sports. †

It refers to this pan-Canadian study, published in July 2021, conducted by the organization Women and Sport in Canada. In particular, we learned that “one in four Canadian girls was not determined to go back to exercising” after the pandemic.

“Since April 26, I have registered 1,767 girls,” explains Clementoni. On this date, in 2019, I had 1957.

Down from 190 players, or about 10%.

“There is a gap. That’s pretty important for now. But it is still very early in the season. There is still a big month of May of registrations for toddlers. †

The press had met federal sports minister Pascale St-Onge in March in Toronto on the sidelines of the Canadians’ qualifying match for the World Cup. She was also concerned about the conclusions of this report.


PHOTOGRAPH YAN DOUBLE, LE SOLEIL ARCHIVES

Pascale St. Onge

Before the pandemic, girls and young women already practiced less sport in organized settings than men than boys in general. With the pandemic, this gap has widened because everyone has been on hold for a while. And the number of young girls who said they didn’t want to exercise anymore is really worrying. […] After this pandemic, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Pascale St-Onge, Federal Minister of Sport, during an interview in March

Soccer Quebec also noted this “split”. But we are not sure that the pandemic is the only cause.

“We noticed that we lost small percentages with the girls, Mathieu Chamberland says. […] Is this the effect of the pandemic? Is it because more sports are being offered for girls, which in itself is very good news? †

That doesn’t stop the provincial federation from taking the bull by the horns.

“We found that the girls may have lacked role models in the field to identify with. At Soccer Quebec, we have mainly worked to promote female coaches. We accompany coaches throughout Quebec. And also for those who want to have higher degrees. We offer scholarships with our partner Respect et Sport. This is our initiative. †

However, the situation does not appear to be generalized. The Association of Lac St-Louis and that of Quebec do not see the same gap between the registrations of girls and boys.

“Our women’s membership has always been strong,” explains George Tissot of Lac St-Louis. Strong in numbers and strong in game level.”

“It’s about the same, says Philippe Bernard of the ARSQ. Good year, bad year, I had 58-59% for boys, 42-41% for girls. We’re still in these stats. †

But beyond all that, and despite the deceptive appearances, the season for cleats and sod is approaching.

“All arguments are there to register,” Mathieu Chamberland recalls.

“The women won the Olympic gold medal. The men are qualified for the World Cup. It’s an inclusive sport that brings communities together. It’s time to be part of the adventure and try it out. †