Greater Trail athletes will soon get back to competitive play after the province officially announced its move to Phase 3 of the Return to Sport Guidelines on Monday.
The move will allow Greater Trail’s skiers, swimmers, skaters and golfers to prepare for regional and provincial competition, while curling, baseball, and hockey leagues can plan for competitive, although limited play.
“We’re into Phase 3 so that means baseball can start playing more teams,” said Trail Youth Baseball (TYB) president Jim Maniago.
For the Trail U18 and U16 Orioles, who play in the Washington State American Legion Baseball League, the teams still cannot access the United States, but will try to set up cohorts with East Kootenay and Okanagan teams.
“Bubbles could include up to six-to-seven teams but we don’t have that many teams to play,” said Maniago. “For our group, it will mean we will hopefully have a pretty full September and early October with games against Penticton, Cranbrook, Kelowna and Okanagan.”
TYB would also like to create a fall league for Grades 7-9 players that could compete against local and West Kootenay teams – if there are any.
“It’s a fair bit of work and tracking, but we are hopeful to have a small ‘league’ in Trail,” added Maniago. “Nelson’s field is under repair so I don’t think they will offer anything and I’m not sure if Castlegar will organize anything either.”
According to the viaSport guidelines, Group A sports are those which are innately self-distanced or can be tweaked to follow the protocol. They include sports such as alpine skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, archery, swimming, figure skating, golf, bowling etc. Cohorts of up to 100 people will be allowed, with regional and provincial play permitted.
Group B includes baseball, softball, curling and volleyball that allows for cohorts of up to 100 people, and regional play.
Basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse and soccer are in Group C, which allows for cohorts of 50 people or four teams. The corresponding sport organizations choose which is more appropriate, the four teams or 50 people.
Group D includes Boxing, judo, taekwondo and karate, which have cohorts of 10.
For Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association (GTMHA), the details on how to proceed currently remain vague, but minor hockey president Trent McNabb hopes for a clearer picture after a webinar meeting with BC Hockey on Friday.
“Hopefully we will see some more clarification as far as what the ‘cohort’ will look like in the Phase 3 approach to the return to play.”
GTMHA has been in regular meetings with regional facilities partners like the City of Trail and viaSport to be ready when given the go ahead to get back on the ice.
“Our ‘Return to play plan’ is taking shape and we will have kids back on the ice this fall,” said McNabb. “Although this will be in a far different manner.”
Charlene Krepiakevich, viaSports’s chief executive officer, said that while the new guidelines come into effect Aug. 24, every sport may not move forward at the same speed.
“They’re going to have to look (at) their own capacity to do it in a safe way,” she said. “It will depend sport to sport. It will depend community to community.”
For Junior hockey, the BCHL understands that physical contact will be permitted in practises and games within the cohort environment of four teams.
Participants and spectators must still adhere to a maximum of 50 people per event, which means fans are still not allowed at hockey games.
Until Phase 4 is announced, it is likely that the BCHL will play in pods of four teams when it begins its extended training camp and exhibition play from September through November.
“I know athletes and their families have been missing the joy of competition these past few months,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in a release. “viaSport has done a great job working with health officials and our amateur sport organizations to ensure we can safely and gradually return to game play. I encourage everyone – players, parents, coaches and volunteers – to continue to work together to make sure we can play and compete safely.”
* There are 72 funded sport organizations throughout B.C. and 4,100 local sport organizations with over 800,000 youth and adult participants. To date, 60 organizations have completed their return to play plans.