Canadian Junior Football League season cancelled; Kamloops Broncos' campaign nixed

Football players across Canada woke up to disheartening news on Thursday.

The Canadian Junior Football League, which includes the B.C. Football Conference, Ontario Football Conference and Prairie Football Conference, has cancelled the 2020 season due to the pandemic.

“I think it’s totally the right decision,” Broncos’ general manager Jan Antons told KTW. “It all comes down to the health and safety of the players and, really, the government restrictions in B.C. of the 50 people for maximum gatherings.

“Now we are going to reach out to the players. Some of them are going to be in shock.”

Antons said the CJFL will conduct meetings in the coming days to discuss fallout, including how the lost season will affect player eligibility.

He said his feel is league brass is working to ensure players will not lose a year of eligibility, including those who were expected to graduate in 2020.

Out-of-town players are particularly hard done by, as some have secured jobs and signed rental agreements in Kamloops.

“This is not easy,” Antons said. “We’ll have to see what their decisions are, if they are going to stick around or move back.”

Sponsorship, ticket sales and player-registration dollars help keep the franchise afloat. In April, Antons told KTW the cancellation of the season would be the worst-case scenario from a financial standpoint.

The Broncos were cleared to begin modified training on July 13 and have since been practising five days a week.

Antons said the immediate plan is to continue training, but with a scaled-back schedule, perhaps two or three days a week, and to remain active in the community.

Scrimmages and intrasquad games seem likely to become possible when viaSport, the government agency for the delivery of sport in B.C., shifts into Phase 3 of its return-to-sport plan.

The agency’s sport activity chart indicates that is not likely to happen before September, but it seems safe to surmise the state of the virus in the province will determine the timing of the transition.

“It is very disappointing to make this announcement today, but our priority is the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and team administrators,” CJFL commissioner Jim Pankovich said in a press release.

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