Player safety, health top of mind as P.E.I. sports teams consider off-Island play

·2 min read
Sports like hockey are at the start of the season, so many are hoping travel between the provinces will still be able to take place if it is safe to do so later in the season. (CBC News - image credit)
Sports like hockey are at the start of the season, so many are hoping travel between the provinces will still be able to take place if it is safe to do so later in the season. (CBC News - image credit)

Some sports organizations on P.E.I. are closely watching public health rules and guidance as they consider attending games and tournaments off-Island.

The days of big crowds at minor sports tournaments seem long ago, but many organizations were hoping fall season would be closer to normal with more travel.

So far, with rising COVID-19 case numbers in the Atlantic provinces, some upcoming games have been cancelled while others are still planned to go ahead — as long as organizers feel it would be safe for all to do so.

The 2021 Atlantic Championship soccer tournament planned in early October in Newfoundland was cancelled last week.

CBC News
CBC News

P.E.I. Soccer Association executive director Peter Wolters said it would have been too risky.

"We would have been in a site for four days and the chances of somebody contracting COVID and not being able to return on a plane, we couldn't deal with that," Wolters said.

The association is still looking at organizing a quick day trip to New Brunswick. The team would be on a bus to help limit the exposure time.

Wolters said they are still considering all the options, but it will only happen if the players and families want to do it. It is near the end of the season, so it would be the last option for travel of the year.

CBC News
CBC News

The Charlottetown Minor Hockey Association is at the start of its season. Some players are planning to go across for games in Moncton in a couple of weeks, but most off-Island competition happens later fall and winter.

The group hopes to host teams from both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick this year — as competitions like the Spud Minor Hockey Tournament are a great for raising money.

"We need the spud to get back for our major fundraiser, really, so we can keep our fees as low as we can," said Keith Ford, president of the association.

Travel helps teams bond

Ford said he is not against inter-provincial travel for games as long as it remains safe for all to do so.

He said it is a part of sports and helps teams bond.

"That's where friendships are made, on travelling," Ford said. "You get to play other teams than just the teams here on P.E.I."

Alex MacIsaac/CBC
Alex MacIsaac/CBC

For varsity sports, Holland College and UPEI said they're going ahead with their scheduled games in all sports, as permitted under public health rules.

Many will be travelling this weekend. Officials said teams usually return the same day.

Spectator numbers are limited, and there are lots health precautions in place.

New vaccination rules are expected to be in place by next week. That means spectators will be required to be vaccinated.

Several sports groups told CBC News that more testing at P.E.I. borders should also give players and families a sense of security.

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