The president of a community football league is calling Saturday’s incident at a minor football game “incredibly disheartening” after a small group of people refused to show vaccination status and got past security to watch the game in Chilliwack.
“We feel that a sporting event for 10-year-olds is not the place for a political statement,” David Rooney, president of the Valley Community Football League (VCFL) wrote in a statement to The Chilliwack Progress. (Read the full statement at the bottom of this story.)
The incident happened during a Chilliwack Giants Minor Football Association game at Townsend Park around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6. Provincial requirements state that in the Fraser East region, proof of vaccination is required to attend outdoor events of more than 50 people.
Rooney went on to state that the leader of the group of people who refused to show vaccination status at the gate was a parent from Mission whose kid was not playing in the game.
“He was organizing a political protest at an event his child was not participating in. The other members of his group were also not parents of children playing. They were using our non-profit event for their own political stance.”
Rooney added that “the VCFL is not pro or anti anything with the exception of being pro-football.”
Full statement by David Rooney, president of the Valley Community Football League:
The VCFL is a non-profit youth football league with programs for children from 5 years old to 18 years old. We encompass Ridge Meadows, Mission, Abbotsford, North Langley and Chilliwack. We are 100 per cent volunteer run from the top down.
We are a very diverse organization who recognize and appreciate all views and beliefs, our only goal is to safely teach children the values of fair play, sportsmanship, and that hard work pays off. We are unfortunately in the midst of the pandemic and doing our best to safely get kids on the field within the rules and restrictions brought forth by the Provincial Health Authority. We feel that a sporting event for 10 year olds is not the place for a political statement. Not on the field or off and not on social media. The incident that occurred today could have jeopardized all the work these kids have put in all season as well as risk the future of the league. We don’t have the funding to cover fines or sanctions for breaking a Provincial health order. The fines at organized events are charged to the organization, not the individuals who choose to ignore the order. We simply cannot afford to cover even one $2,300 fine without sacrificing funding that goes directly to the children playing.
The gentleman who started this is a football parent from Mission and his child was not playing today. Their season is over. He was organizing a political protest at an event his child was not participating in. The other members of his group were also not parents of children playing. They were using our non-profit event (we don’t charge admission to games) for their own political stance. It is incredibly disheartening. Our volunteers have worked non-stop over 2020 and 2021 to make this happen. Volunteering doesn’t have an off season.
It is really worth noting that we do have incredibly supportive parents who have chosen not to vaccinate and set up seating and tents outside the fenced area to view the game today. Those folks understand that letting the kids be kids and play the game is more important and they were all still able to cheer for their teams. Our greater football family is nothing less than incredible and together with our volunteers are the lifeblood of youth sport.
This new mandate and the previous mandates have had an adverse effect on our sport yet our people were able to put together a full season of football and that is what really matters. We have lost great long-term coaches and parent volunteers due to the mandates but NONE of them chose to protest or organize a disruption to their children’s games. Coach Allan Grant’s wonderful statement is a perfect example of putting the kids first and we are incredibly lucky to have coaches like him.
The VCFL is not pro or anti anything with the exception of being pro-football. We will continue to do our best to keep kids playing and growing in sport because we truly recognize the value that sport offers our children.
President – VCFL