The Valley Huskers are going to be left on the sideline in 2020, thanks to COVID-19.
The Canadian Junior Football League, which includes the B.C. Football Conference, announced Aug. 6 that it’s not feasible to operate a regular season or playoffs, and the CJFL is turning its attention to 2021.
“It is very disappointing to make this announcement today, but our priority is the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, and team administrators,” said CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich.
Having 50-plus players on buses traveling to road games was a shaky idea during a pandemic, and the physical in-your-face nature of football makes it nearly impossible to physically distance during games.
With bans on large gatherings still in place, having 100-plus players and a dozen or more coaches at Chilliwack’s Exhibition Field, even with no fans in the stands, was a non-starter.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have followed all public health guidelines and will continue to support them in the future,” the CJFL’s news release said. “Unfortunately, at this stage, return to play guidelines do not allow for large enough gatherings to make training and competition safe for our athletes.
“Despite our hope that the situation in Canada would improve and allow for the CJFL to proceed with the 2020 season, the health and safety challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing risk to our players, coaches and staffs make it unfeasible for the CJFL teams to compete in 2020.”
Off the field, it was going to be financially challenging for several teams, including the Huskers. With local businesses struggling, sponsorship would have taken a hit, and with the likelihood of no paying fans, the team would have struggled to make ends meet.
But Huskers president Jean Hincks said the team will be okay.
It’s sad, but the health of our players is the most important factor in the season and the virus doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon!” she said. “We are going to focus on building a strategy for success. We have a great board and I know we’re going to do great things next year.”
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