Just past the mid-way point of the season, high school basketball players from around Greater Victoria are itching to play in upcoming tournaments, but they will have to wait a little bit longer.
“It’s just such a great experience, being able to play with your teams and bond on the road,” said Kiren Chaewick-Repp, a forward with the Oak Bay Secondary Sr. boys basketball team.
Provincial COVID-19 restrictions have halted sports tournaments for youth around the province since Dec. 18. On Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, announced the province will lift that ban on Feb. 1.
“I don’t expect to see an increase in transmission related to youth sports,” said Dr. Henry during a press conference on Friday.
“It’s important that we act safely and follow proper health guidance,” added Minister of Health Adrian Dix on Friday. “But it’s important that these events take place.”
Despite approval from the Ministry of Health, high school sports tournaments have yet to be given the green light from the Ministry of Education.
In a statement to CHEK News, the Ministry of Education said officials will be reviewing the current guidelines around school sports tournaments.
“This coming week we are meeting with the province’s K-12 steering committee — made up of educators, parents, support workers, school leaders, trustees, indigenous rights holders, Ministry staff and public health experts — to review the current guidelines with respect to school sports tournaments.”
“We’re really shocked and stunned,” said Amrit Lalli, a parent and basketball coach at Vic High School. “This is tournament season, especially for basketball.”
BC School Sports had a similar reaction, calling the move stunning and disheartening.
“We are stunned by this decision, as there was commitment made this year to ensuring club and community sport access remained equal to school sport, and to have this decision made at such a critical time of year is disheartening for everyone involved in school sport and continues to threaten and erode at the long-term health and sustainability of school sport,” BCSS Executive Director Jordan Abney said in a statement posted online.
Individual high school games are still allowed. However, Lalli says tournaments are crucial for playoffs, provincial championships and long-lasting memories.
“It’s something that they’ll never forget,” said Lalli.
The wrestling provincials are scheduled for next month and basketball provincials are set for March. Athletes and coaches fear that the longer the provincial government waits, the more likely another season will be lost.