City opening parks to outdoor youth team sports draws excitement

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In about three weeks, many empty fields will soon be filled with kids playing organized sports for the first time in nearly a year. It’s change that brings a lot of excitement for both parents and kids. The pandemic has robbed sports from student athletes, but with the easing of restrictions, officials say the first pitch of Spring season is set to begin mid-April.

Farrington High School Athletics Director Harold Tanaka says it’s a big deal for the City to open parks again to outdoor organized sports.

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“Like we practiced at Lanakila and our games are at Lanakila. So I told our coaches, right now, we’re going to play everything away because we don’t have, you know, a home site because the county is not letting us permit yet. So once that opens up, then we can make adjustments to our schedule,” said Tanaka.

Spring sports in the OIA, like baseball and softball, will have a shortened season that starts mid-April.

“They didn’t have anything last year and for them to lose two years of a season would have been pretty traumatic for them. Some of them are trying to find schools for, you know, to play at the next level and you know we’re trying to create something for them,” said Tanaka.

I9 Sports, which run programs like flag football and soccer for children islandwide, also use City parks.

“I think just the capacity, you know. Obviously we’re going to have the opportunity to have more participants there,” said Executive Director Roger Dequina.

I9 says they’ve noticed the pent up demand from families to get kids playing.

“We have seen a really incredible response in the last 10 days actually. So we have about, maybe, 70% increase from the same dates last year of programming when COVID first hit.”

Spectators are not allowed at the sidelines, and that includes parents. Several years ago, the organization did a survey that showed kids would prefer sometimes to play without their parents watching.

“Which is an interesting discovery. So we think it might be a little bit more challenging for their parents to maybe, you know, not necessarily be there but just their kids participating and we’ll see how it goes. But we definitely want to comply with what the City and County set forth,” said Dequina.

Outdoor organized team sports for adults will be allowed starting April 19.

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