NewsPG CougarsSportsSpruce Kings, Cougars react to provincial amendments on group sports SHARE ON: Brendan Pawliw, staff Tuesday, Dec. 29th, 2020 (Photo supplied by PG Cougars/James Doyle Photography and MyPGNow.com staff)Prince George Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes is pleased with the amendments made by the province to group sports.According to ViaSport, “group sport” now consists of sport for those 22 years of age and up.Previously, any players aged 19 and older were not allowed to participate in practices with younger teammates who had been allowed to continue training.In an interview with MyPGNow.com, the BCHL club was lobbying hard for these changes.“The players are happy about it and it gives us an opportunity to bring all of our players back to Prince George after the holiday break and get them on the ice together,” said Hawes.He added the previous restrictions had some unintended negative consequences for their older core of players.“It affected our 19 and 20-year-old players, unfortunately, I think they kind of missed the boat on that one. I don’t think they planned on that to happen but it did take some time for us in the junior hockey world and our governing body with BC Hockey to get to the government and get our point across.”In addition, Hawes remains optimistic the BCHL can kick off some semblance of a regular season.“Currently, we are in a position where our scheduled season start date is January 15th and the announcement on January 8th when the current restrictions to the Provincial Health Office expire and we will be listening intently on the 8th.”“We are extremely confident though that we can have some sort of condensed regular season in the BCHL.”On the flip side, Cougars Vice-President of Business Andy Beesley admitted their team remains in a state of uncertainty.“We are in a bit of a different situation because the WHL and the Prince George Cougars are not in operation right now, in fact, we have players that are all over the world so we don’t have our team in town to have any practices.”“At this point, our main focus is to support the health authorities’ decisions whatever they may be for our team because we just want to get the pandemic over with so that we can eventually get the WHL back in operation.”Here is the full list of amendments outlined by viaSport:“Adult team sport” revised to “group sport”: Group sport is defined as sporting activities involving more than one person and includes training and practice for an individual or a team sport, but does not include sport for children or youth, varsity sport or high-performance athlete sport. Group sport (i.e. sport for those 22 years of age or older) is only permitted in groups of up to two people (e.g. singles tennis or an athlete and a coach training session). Outdoor group sport is only permitted in groups of up to four people (e.g. four individuals may run together or four individuals could run soccer drills). All participants must maintain a distance of three meters from one another while participating in the sports activity. While this order provides clarity, it is important to remember the intent is to limit group gathering. For example, individuals should not be playing a sport with four people and then switching teams to another group of four during the same time slot.Travel to home club: Individuals are permitted to travel to their home club for the purpose of sport. The home club is defined as the sports organization, club, or facility at which a person is registered for ongoing sports programming. Individuals should not carpool with other participants.High performance exemption: High-performance athletes are individuals who have been identified to a targeted athlete list with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific by their respective Provincial Sport Organization or National Sport Organization. A person, who is a high-performance athlete who is already training in B.C. may train, compete, and travel for that purpose if they follow the COVID safety protocols of their respective provincial or national sport organization.Sport for children and youth means an activity that is delivered by a provincial sport organization or a local sport organization and may include participants who are under 22 years of age but does not include varsity sports. The PHO Order for Events and Gatherings differentiates between adult and youth sports activities.Intercollegiate varsity sport exemption: Varsity sport is defined in the order as a sport for which the eligibility requirements for participation are established by a national association for the regulation of intercollegiate athletics, or which is designated as a varsity sports program by a post-secondary institution. Individuals of any age may participate in varsity sport if they are a member of a varsity sport team and they only train or practice with the post-secondary institution with which they are enrolled. Varsity sport, at this time, needs to follow viaSport’s Return to Sport Guidelines (i.e. maintain three metres physical distance and travel is limited the athlete’s respective post-secondary institution).