The Alberni Valley Non-Contact Hockey League has suspended play under provincial health orders despite having a strict COVID-19 safety plan. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY TREVOR ZADO)

The Alberni Valley Non-Contact Hockey League has suspended play under provincial health orders despite having a strict COVID-19 safety plan. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY TREVOR ZADO)

Adult sports shutdown ‘tough pill to swallow’ for some Vancouver Islanders

Adult recreation adjusting to new provincial COVID-19 orders

Vancouver Island sports clubs and groups are accepting stricter prohibitions announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, but not without frustration.

Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association, whose members consist mainly of senior citizens, immediately cancelled all indoor sports programs including curling, pickleball, walking soccer, slo-pitch and volleyball.

PGOSA president Rob Jonas said staying active during the winter months is an important undertaking for most of the members is disappointed they have to stop.

“I guess everybody is in the same boat, young and old,” said Jonas. “It’s a shame but at least we’re staying alive.”

Jonas said they still have some outdoor activities such as cycling that are still ongoing but he has advised activity managers to halt them for now.

“I asked them to consider shutting them down because cases are spreading like crazy,” said Jonas.

RELATED: Outdoor and indoor adult team sports banned as B.C. battles surge in COVID cases

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On Dec. 2, Henry announced that all indoor team sports will be banned, citing that they carry too high a rise of COVID-19 transmission. This includes basketball, cheerleading, combat sports, martial arts, floor ringette, netball, skating, soccer, squash and volleyball. Last month ban was put it effect on group fitness classes that include spin, yoga, aerobics, dance classes, bootcamp, dance fitness, and high-intensity interval training.

Cascadia Martial Arts owner and instructor Brett Fee is disappointed. He said they’ve already endured so much after closing earlier this year when the pandemic first broke out.

“We lost about 40 per cent of our membership for and since we re-opened, we built it back to 30 per cent then this happened,” said Fee. “It’s absolutely devastating.”

Fee said that they’re not a mixed-martial arts club. They are amateur martial art sport operating under the Phase 3 guidelines of ViaSport BC.

“We don’t do any grappling, just poomsae (fighting patterns) and we strictly enforce social distancing,” said Fee. “It’s a safe activity.”

Fee said they’ve now altered their programs to keep students safe. Instead of group sessions, they’re doing private instructions. They’re also using Zoom to conduct classes.

“There are some parents who actually do enjoy their kids getting one-on-one attention,” said Fee. “We had to modify that way we do things here.”

All games in the Alberni Valley Non-Contact Hockey League have been suspended.

Trevor Zado, president of the AV-NCHL and a member of the Integral Hockey Pucks, suspended the league Wednesday prior to the 8:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. games.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “We’ve kept our cohort levels to Phase 2,” and the rules for different age levels and activities is confusing.

Henry said guidance that had been in place earlier wasn’t sufficient to keep people from spreading COVID-19 in some settings.

“We do know that indoor group activities, whether it’s team activities or group fitness activities, are much higher risk right now,” she said in her Wednesday afternoon press conference.

She specifically mentioned an “oldtimers” hockey team that travelled to Alberta for a game and returned home only to spread COVID-19 among their community.

Zado said a few “bad apples” are ruining it for others who have worked hard to put safety plans in place.

“Our safety plan is cutting edge,” he said, adding that it is unfortunate Henry has blanketed the entire adult hockey community with the same rules. “I think it’s wrong that for a couple of bad apples we have to suffer. It’s so important we have some aspect of normality.”

The NCHL organized into four cohorts of four teams each, and limited teams to 15 players each. Games comprise five players on the bench and six on the ice including goaltenders. A mask policy was implemented for everyone except those on the ice, and time in the arena was limited.

“In our action plan there’s 15 minutes before game time, six feet apart in the dressing room. After the fact we have that 15-minute bubble to leave. Some guys come dressed (in uniform) and leave dressed,” said Zado, who began working with the league’s governing body and insurance company in July on a COVID-19 safety plan.

“All these things have made (our rink) a safe place.”

Zado said games will be suspended at least until Dec. 31 according to correspondence he received from Alberni Valley Multiplex staff. He didn’t know when the league might start up again in the new year. “I’m going to take it day by day.”

PlayattheAlberniValleyCurlingClubwassuspendedWednesdaynightamidconfusionovertheorders.ThosewhogatheredforregularWednesdaynightleaguegamesdecidedtocancelthe7p.m.gamebeforeCurlBCissuedanything,saidStefanieWeberfromtheAVCCexecutive.

Weber is hopeful play will be able to resume in early January 2021, following the club’s regular Christmas break. “We intend to reopen Jan. 4 depending on public health orders that are in place at that time,” she said.

After the upcoming weekend’s pandemic results are analyzed, Henry will announce Dec. 7 whether current restrictions on travel, private gatherings and team sports are to be extended, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

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susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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