VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The new COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s two biggest health regions have put further strain on minor sports leagues and parents now that competitive hockey has been put on hold with little notice.
Players in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions have suddenly been thrown back to what are effectively Phase 2 COVID-19 restrictions, frustrating hockey parents whose aspiring NHLers can’t play for two weeks.
Speaking with Sportsnet 650, BC Hockey CEO Cameron Hope, who has only been on the job for two weeks now, says he’s been hearing the concerns of thousands of parents who’ve been impacted by the change.
“Whenever the landscape like this shifts underneath them and their schedules are affected, it causes a bit of mayhem, as you can imagine.”
The new provincial health order came into effect over the weekend with the goal of cutting down transmission as the number of virus infections continues to soar in B.C. The order includes a temporary ban on indoor group sports and fitness classes.
Across the province, Hope says there are more than 55,000 players registered this year, along with coaches, volunteers, and parents.
Learning to adapt, keep kids on the ice
But even with the short notice, Hope is giving credit to the individual associations and districts for adapting and working with the health order.
“I think most parents, as well as everybody that’s involved in the game, is in a position to kind of roll with it for now,” he says. “Everyone settled in pretty quickly, adapted quickly, and came out of the weekend with clear direction to their members about what that’s going to look like for the next couple of weeks.”
Keeping the kids on the ice is important, Hope adds.
“We want the players to play, we want the game to be meaningful. We’ll see how it goes as we go along,” he says.
“We just make sure we adapt to whatever viaSport is telling us, in terms of what the safe way of delivering the game is, and adapt it to hockey,” he says. “I think most parents, as well as everybody that’s involved in the game, is kind of in the position to roll with it for now and hope it’s not forever.”
Please see important information update from @viaSportBC regarding protocols for the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland. In the FAQ, these regions Return to Phase 2 activiites https://t.co/LA4m5WErRn https://t.co/70Vk2dDDcy
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey_Source) November 10, 2020
Hope admits things have not been consistent across the board, with parents and players having to deal with different rules around spectator numbers and dressing room protocols.
“We tried to do the best we can to follow the orders but not completely close down the ability of youngsters around the province to enjoy this game,” Hope says.
While playoffs have been cancelled this season, Hope says depending on how things go, we could see some kind of replacement event planned for the spring.
“Hopefully, this is a little setback and we’ll be back to the competition here in a couple of weeks, fingers crossed.”
-with files from Sportsnet 650