Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)

Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)

Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

Sporting body sent open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

Softball B.C. is urging the provincial health officer to lift the ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports.

The sporting body sent an open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix asking them to reconsider the current practice-only model for young athletes.

“On behalf of our members of Softball B.C. and the many softball players across our province, we would like to strongly request a return to play, including games, as soon as possible for softball.”

The letter was sent out on behalf of Softball B.C.’s executive director Rick Benson and president Graeme Duncan.

“At a minimum, we would like to see restrictions eased off immediately to the same level as September, 2020 to permit competitive games within a controlled cohort, and with an objective of full resumption of play by this summer.”

The letter noted softball is a low-contact sport and lends itself well to physical distancing.

The April 5 open letter comes on the heels of a Langley man urging the government to do the same.

On March 29, Brent Larsen held a press conference in Langley in an effort to get the provincial health officer to allow children’s gameplay to resume.

Larsen has also started a petition and as of April 9 had 2,700 signatures. The petition can be found by googling “open sporting games for BC children”

SEE ALSO: Organizer of kids sports petition undeterred by B.C. tightening COVID-19 rules

“We want to see the data that shows it’s unsafe for kids to play outdoors,” Larsen said at the press conference. “I call on the health authorities to let kids play.”

Softball B.C.’s open letter also also asked the government to provide data and “empirical justification” for the current bans on games for kids in softball.

“Help us by providing justification for the phase we are currently in, and so we can demonstrate that these protocols and criteria are paving the way for the fastest and safest pathway back to sport as we know it.”

The open letter also noted everyone involved in softball had worked together to meet and exceed province-mandated safety rules.

“We have done this in order to do our part to provide healthy outdoor physical activity and social interaction under the safest conditions we can.”

Scott Wheatley, member-at-large for Softball B.C.—and also executive director for the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, said he’d like to see the kids back playing games too.

“We want kids on the field playing. As long as they can be playing in a safe way.”

He said Softball B.C. proved last year they could implement all safety protocols and play games safely in cohorts.

“We’d like to go back to where we ended the season last year,” said Wheatley. “We had cohorts of up to 100 players and coaches, which was basically five to six teams that played each other.”

(Story continues below Softball B.C.’s letter.)

Benson and Duncan also ask Henry and Dix to give them a timeline for a return to play for all sports and cited inconsistencies in restrictions in relation to other sports organizations.

“Our members are growing restless and without having a clear understanding of why we are under certain restrictions and not having a sense of when we might see opportunities for play, we are fearful that a significant number of our local sport clubs will not be able to sustain their volunteers and participants and we may lose those organizations and their history, permanently.”

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