Kamloops Broncos planning to play football in 2021

GM Jan Antons: “Even losing last season was devastating. We had no income. We still had some bills to pay. We did apply for some grants. We’re hoping for those to come through.”

Kamloops Broncos’ general manager Jan Antons said his B.C. Football Conference club is planning on regular season football in 2021.

He also acknowledged a lot has to change if this season is to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, to which it succumbed in 2020.

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The BCFC season cannot take place under current government-imposed travel and gathering-size restrictions in place to guard against the spread of the virus.

Players need to travel across the province and fly into B.C. from across the country, more than 50 people are required to gather for games to be played and men must hit each other during those games.

None of those things are permitted as of Wednesday, April 21.

“It’s similar to hockey, where there is going to be no spectators, but we’re still preparing to have a season,” Antons said. “But it’s going to be really tough to get going under the current restrictions.”

The Canadian Football League announced on Wednesday its return-to-play plans, which would see regular season play begin on Aug. 5. The B.C. Lions told TSN they could proceed, from a financial point of view, with 4,000 or 5,000 fans in BC Place Stadium.

Antons sees the development in the CFL’s bid to have a season as a positive sign for the Canadian Junior Football League season.

BCFC spring camps in May appear to be off the table, but Antons said there is hope practices can begin early in July and the regular season can start later that month. He said the league is preparing for multiple scenarios, including a shortened season and limited travel.

The prospect of another cancelled campaign is scary for the future of junior football in Kamloops.

Sponsorship, attendance and player-registration dollars help keep the franchise afloat. They disappear for a second straight year if the season is nixed, the worst-case scenario, according to Antons.

“Even losing last season was devastating,” Antons said. “We had no income. We still had some bills to pay. We did apply for some grants. We’re hoping for those to come through.”

Could another lost season sink the Broncos’ franchise?

“I would never say there is no Broncos,” Antons said. “It all depends on what’s going to play out. I always keep my spirits high. I’m hoping we can survive another season. If it keeps on going, it makes it harder. We’re hoping for some government funding to come through.”

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