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Semiahmoo Peninsula sports groups ‘managing surprisingly well’ despite Omicron surge

Athletic associations adjusting on fly, re-instituting safety measure to protect players, coaches
Though some games have had to be postponed, Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association teams are managing “surprisingly well” amid the latest COVID-19 surge, executive director Dave Newson said. (File photo)

While the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to cause staffing shortages, closures and disruptions for many Lower Mainland businesses – not to mention leaving some city operations temporarily shorthanded – it has yet to cause major problems for Semiahmoo Peninsula’s sports associations.

Dave Newson, the executive director for Semiahmoo Minor Hockey, told Peace Arch News this week that the association is “doing surprisingly well” considering the circumstances, and added that most games – but not all – are being played as scheduled.

“We are definitely seeing smaller rosters, and have had some activities postponed. However, thanks to the diligence of our families and coaches we are managing to get most of the games in,” he said.

Tournaments were cancelled over the Christmas holidays – normally a very popular time for minor-hockey events – after the province announced new restrictions in mid-December, which Newson said was understandable, though still disappointing for many teams because tournaments “are a big part of the (minor hockey) experience.”

Semiahmoo’s top U13 rep team was in the midst of planning for the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament – one of the most prestigious events in minor hockey – but the tournament was postponed until later in the year. Newson said organizers are “regrouping” and optimistically planning for the event to be held in May.

On the soccer pitch, Coastal FC hasn’t yet been adversely affected by the rash of COVID-19 infections, though executive director Chris Murphy pointed out that’s largely due to the fact that most of the club’s soccer activities “have been fairly shut down” in recent weeks due to winter weather.

Though schools have only been back in session for a week – Christmas break was extended a week for most students as a result of rising COVID-19 cases – Earl Marriott Secondary athletic director Adam Roberts said trying to adjust on the fly, as far as school sports are concerned, “has been a serious grind.”

A pair of Surrey basketball tournament originally scheduled for this month – the Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic and the Surrey RCMP Classic – have been postponed.

On the curling scene, Peace Arch Curling Club had already re-scheduled one bonspiel. The club was set to host the Pacific Coast Masters Curling Association’s Over-80s Curling Championships but due to travel advisories and provincial restrictions, that event was postponed in early December, with a tentative new date set for Feb. 19-20.

However, even that date may be up in the air; a note on the PCMCA’s website from Jan. 11 states that “unfortunately we have lost our bonspiels and playdowns. Since we remain under the rules of the Provincial Health Authority, the PCMCA is anxiously awaiting the Jan. 18 announcement by the PHO.”

The statement also notes that the latest bonspiels could be rescheduled would be March 16-19.

Curl BC announced Jan. 14 that a handful of provincial championships have also been postponed, including the 2022 Mixed Doubles Championship that was set for Langley. It’s been rescheduled for March 3-6. Provincial masters championships, which are to be played in New Westminster, have also been moved from mid-February to March 8-13.

“With Omicron infections currently sweeping through the province and expected to peak in late January, it was the prudent choice to move these championships events forward,” a notice on the Curl BC website reads.

The key to avoiding any lengthy stoppages – and to keeping everyone healthy – has been the ability to adjust, as well as the implementation of more health-and-safety measures, Newson said.

Semiahmoo Minor Hockey, for example, has “ramped up safety protocols” that have included limiting time in dressing rooms, consistent mask wearing and daily health checks. Following the required isolation periods for people who are sick has also been strictly enforced to avoid further spread, Newson added.

“Fingers crossed that we can learn to live with this, make these adjustments and keep kids active,” he said.

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