Coaches for youth sports teams must now be fully vaccinated if they want to continue working behind the bench.
According to a provincial health order issued on Oct. 25, an adult must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine if they are “leading, supervising or assisting with a program for children or youth, whether the program takes place inside or outside.”
The order applies to coaches for outdoor sports like soccer, and to people supervising or leading youth activities including learning, art, drama and dance for persons under 22 years of age.
B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix said the order is in response to concerns raised over parents who have kids enrolled in organized youth programs, which he said are less structured than workplaces when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
“The straightforward part of this is clear: if you’re supervising kids sports, you should be vaccinated,” he said on Thursday.
“This isn’t about enforcement or punishing anyone, it’s about ensuring the safety of the activity, and that’s why the provincial health officer has taken this decision,” he added.
Dix said the province is working with sports organizations across the province and will release more details on the order next Tuesday.
More than 90 per cent of eligible adults in B.C. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 85.3 per cent have received their second dose.
Soccer clubs scrambling
Gregor Young, executive director of Vancouver United FC — a youth soccer club with more than 2,800 participants — said he was surprised and disappointed when he learned of the order on Wednesday.
“We did think we were through most of these restrictions,” he said. “We are reading it in that we need to collect vaccination confirmations … from all of our parent volunteers who work directly with players.”
Young said large clubs in the region like Vancouver United have as many as 1,000 parent volunteers who either coach or help manage teams.
“It’s challenging especially when we didn’t have advanced warning it was coming and we were told it was effective immediately, so there is a lot of scrambling to develop forms and collect this information,” he said.
Young said he’s hopeful most parent volunteers are vaccinated and willing to share their records so the impact on teams will be minimal.