The White Rock-South Surrey Titans’ football season has been cut short.
The minor football association announced on its Facebook page last week that “after all options were explored” the Vancouver Mainland Football League – the league in which all levels of Titans’ teams play – has “had to make the unfortunatee decision to cancel the remainder of the season.”
According to the announcement, one week of the regular season was left on the schedule, and playoffs would normally have followed.
The VMFL – which includes football associations from Vancouver and Richmond all the way east to Langley – has been paused since early November, one day after new provincial health-orders suspended most sports and recreation activities in which physical distancing could not be maintained, bumping many back into an earlier phase of return-to-play plans – a phase that included training but no games against other teams.
Had they found a way to continue games, the new health orders also limited travel between health regions, which caused scheduling issues for the minor football league, as its member teams are spread across both the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions.
Availability of game officials was also difficult for the same reason, the league’s announcement noted.
“(The cancellation) was due to many reasons some of which included not being able to get enough referees into the Fraser Health Region for the final week which meant there was no way to continue games,” the post read.
The Titans’ began the 2020 season in the summer, after COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed and the VMFL’s return-to-play plan was approved. When the season hit the field, a handful of new safety rules were in place, including limiting the number of coaches and players on the field – as well as fans and other in attendance – while also implementing full face-shields, long sleeves and gloves for players.
Through seven weeks of the nine-week season, the Titans reported no COVID-19 cases.
“We are very grateful to have played seven weeks of football and it was only possible because of the hard work and organization by the BCPFA (British Columbia Provincial Football Association), VMFL and all the community football associations working together that it did,” Tina Giustino, a vice-president on the Titans’ executive, told Peace Arch News Wednesday.
“It was a huge achievement and worth every moment to give our athletes a season. In a year of isolation, this outdoor team sport was crucial to the mental and physical health of our kids.”
Now, the association will focus on the next season, as well as its flag-football program, which is planned for the spring, assuming that “by next April our community will be ready to play outside safely once again.”