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An unexpected Vax order frustrates some youth sports programs, but most accept it

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A lack of notification and consultation about the vaccination order surprised some sports guides

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Nathan Griffiths Image of youth football training for Surrey United.Youth football training for Surrey United. Some youth sports leaders are frustrated with how the province communicated changes in vaccination requirements for adults who oversee or coach youth sports. Photo by Francis Georgian / Postmedia

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Some youth sports directors are frustrated by the lack of communication about the new vaccination regulations for supervision or coaching of youth sports teams.

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Part of a provincial health ordinance issued this week included a requirement that adults who “direct, supervise, or support” a program for children or adolescents must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The rule applies to all youth programs, regardless of whether they take place indoors or outdoors.

“We are discouraged by the lack of advice and compliance timeline,” said Jeff Clarke, a former Vancouver Whitecap and technical director and operations manager for Surrey United Football.

“We’re all for safety and compliance,” said Clark, “but it affects the kids and the volunteers, and as a nonprofit, we’re not equipped to move as quickly as a company.”

“The sudden and rapid implementation of this move seems inconsistent with both our outdoor broadcast data and the gradual approach used in other sectors,” said Daren Sherbot, president of Vancouver Athletic Football Club, in a statement .

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Meanwhile, the province announced on Friday that 584 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths were reported on Thursday. In addition, the state health officer extended the mask regulations for public interiors, which expired on Sunday, for an indefinite period.

There are around 2,800 children and over 660 volunteers involved in the Vancouver football club, according to Sherbot, and no cases of COVID-19 transmission have been reported within the club either this season or last season.

In an e-mail on October 28, Sherbot urged all “coaches, managers and team officials” of the club to submit a vaccination certificate by the next day so that they can continue in their current role.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the order reflected the need to require vaccinations in those settings that are less structured than workplaces. He said he thought it was absolutely the right decision in the circumstances.

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Dix said he expected all the latest instructions from the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, to be followed to monitor youth sports. “This is not about enforcing or punishing someone. It’s about keeping the activity safe, ”he said.

“It’s less risky and I’m a little more comfortable,” said Dale Rahim, who coaches youth football in the BC Coastal Soccer League, of the new rules.

The decline in school sports resulted in hundreds more children signing up for soccer leagues.

“They come here for something like athletics because they don’t get it at school,” Rahim said.

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For Holman Wang, who coaches both soccer and hockey, the requirement to be fully vaccinated was not an issue.

“I have already uploaded my vaccination card to ePact to meet the Vancouver Minor Hockey Association’s verification requirements,” he wrote in an email. “I think the request makes sense.”

BC Hockey CEO Cam Hope admitted that some people were “a little surprised” by the new order but said that it would have “minimal, if any, impact” on hockey in the province.

A similar rule has already come into effect in many arenas in the province, he said, adding that when Hockey Canada strongly recommended vaccinations for all eligible, “people took it to heart.”

“Compared to all the things we looked at last year,” said Hope, “this won’t be what is keeping the kids off the ice cream.”

With a file from Steve Ewen and The Canadian Press.

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@njgriffiths

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