Health measures introduced earlier this week in the Interior Health region are impacting local sports teams, including the Kamloops Broncos and TRU WolfPack.
Players and coaches from both organizations are ecstatic about the prospect of resuming play in the next few weeks after their respective B.C. Football Conference and Canada West seasons were nixed in 2020 amid the pandemic.
Broncos’ general manager Jan Antons told KTW his club’s Aug. 28 contest against the Okanagan Sun of Kelowna has been postponed, with COVID-19-related travel recommendations and gathering-size limitations pre-empting the Week 1 tilt.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, an order that appears to make it impossible for two teams with rosters of about 70 players each to clash.
Kamloops is slated to travel to Chilliwack on Sept. 11 for its Week 2 matchup against the Valley Huskers, but Broncos’ brass is looking for clarity on travel regulations before heading to the Fraser Health region.
The provincial government is discouraging travel for non-essential purposes to and from Interior Health.
Antons is this week seeking clarity on travel-related liability concerns from viaSport (the government’s delivery agency for sport programs) and the B.C. Provincial Football Association.
Can the Broncos and Sun travel and play without fear of repercussion?
“It’s never easy to make that call when it says not recommended. Once that decision comes, we’ll abide by it,” Antons said. “We hope it’s going to be allowed.”
The Interior Health orders are expected to be in place until at least the end of September, during which the Broncos are slated to play four of the eight games on their schedule.
TRU athletics director Curtis Atkinson is confident the Interior Health travel recommendations will not spoil the opening of the Canada West soccer season, with both the men’s and women’s WolfPack teams set to host the UBC Thunderbirds of Vancouver on Sept. 10.
“Right now, the provincial order still allows travel for sport,” Atkinson said. “The regional order, when we read the Interior Health orders brought in that were perhaps more restrictive than provincially, there is nothing explicitly stating travel in and out of Interior Health can’t happen.”
Smaller rosters mean the Canada West matches will not be waxed due to current gathering-size limitations, said Atkinson, but spectators seem out of the question for September.
Atkinson noted the Pack had big plans for opening weekend, a celebration of the return of U Sports athletics that was to coincide with TRU’s back-to-school barbecue, which may also go up in flames.
“It’s disappointing, but I’ve always said our No. 1 priority is to have meaningful competition again,” Atkinson said.
Home-opening weekend precedes a stretch of road action in Kelowna and Victoria.
TRU’s soccer teams are scheduled to return to Kamloops on Oct. 1 to host the Trinity Western Spartans of Langley.
That date could mark the return of WolfPack fans to Hillside Stadium if restrictions are loosened at September’s end.