A youth hockey tournament that would have brought twenty teams to the Oakbank, Man. area was cancelled because of COVID-19 transmission concerns.
A letter sent to the parents of players in the Springfield Minor Hockey Association’s U9 tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, said there were 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases among players.
Cory Nakamura, the association president, told CTV News that no cases were linked to the hockey league and the decision to cancel the tournament largely came from concerns among volunteers.
“The comfort level wasn’t really there,” said Nakamura, “It’s a community run tournament and it’s hard to run a tournament without any volunteers.”
Thirteen teams from outside of Oakbank, within the RM of Springfield, would have played in the tournament, along with seven local teams.
The Springfield Minor Hockey Association also cancelled a U7 tournament scheduled for next weekend.
Some Oakbank community members say this was the right move.
“The transmission rates are going higher, we’re seeing that on a day-to-day basis,” said Rebecca Sandilands, a parent living in Oakbank, who says COVID-19 cases have been linked to the local high and middle schools.
“It seems like the fourth wave is here,” she said.
Chris St. Hilaire, who lives in Oakbank has three grandchildren in youth hockey, agrees cancelling the tournament was the right move.
“The numbers are coming up in the schools,” she said, “To keep the community said they got to do what they go to do.”
St. Hilaire adds a lot of Oakbank’s community programs are volunteer-run and hopes parents understand why the tournament was cancelled.
“Volunteers are awesome,” she said, “So if they’re not comfortable with that, people should respect it.”
Hockey Manitoba President Peter Woods applauds the proactive measures taken by the Springfield Minor Hockey Association in cancelling the tournament.
“Better to take that step now and reduce any type of (COVID-19) exposure that they possibly can,” said Woods.
Despite the cancellation, and a rise in COVID-19 cases among youth across Manitoba, Woods is still confident in Hockey Manitoba’s return to play program.
“I think we put in some very strong restrictions ahead of the curve,” he said, “Certainly ahead of the restrictions that would have been implemented by public health and the provincial government.”
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