Players, coaches and support staff with Chilliwack’s Valley Huskers will need to be vaccinated to continue with the BC Football Conference team.
The Huskers and five other BCFC teams have voted unanimously to adopt a vaccine policy that will kick in on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
By that date the league expects players, coaches, trainers, support staff and other team personnel to have received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. By Oct. 27, the league expects all of those people to be double-vaccinated.
“We are trying our best to play a 2021 football season this year, and we want to do everything we can to keep our players, coaches and staff as safe as possible,” said BCFC president Tyler McLaren. “The BCFC has seen what various sports have already implemented in comparable leagues and feel this will give us the best chance to keep all safe and healthy, do right by our communities, and enable us to complete a year for our athletes.”
The Huskers opened the 2021 season last weekend with a 39-8 home field loss to the Okanagan Sun and return to action Sept. 11 with another home game at Exhibition Stadium against the Kamloops Broncos (7 p.m. start).
Head coach Bob Reist has a large roster this season, and confirmed he has already lost one player because of the new policy.
“It is what it is, at this point,” the coach said. “Me saying something one way or the other is not going to have any impact or influence on the decision. The policy is there and we’ve explained it to everybody and we are moving forward as is.”
It makes sense for the BCFC and its member clubs to be on the public health side of the vaccine debate, but from a purely football ops point of view, it’s putting Reist and other head coaches/general managers in a tough spot.
Normally a media-friendly coach, this is one topic he clearly didn’t want to discuss.
“I think it puts everybody in an awkward spot, you know, but it is what it is,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about people’s personal decisions about the vaccine. I don’t think that has any relevance to football right now. The policy is the policy and there’s not much for me to say.”