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Future of junior football murky as Covid-19 forces cancellation of season

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This simple equation is perhaps the easiest way to enter a description of the Wednesday decision, and Thursday public announcement, that the Canadian Junior Football League has dropped all plans for games this year.

CJFL president Jim Pankovich made it clear that the decision by the Prairie Junior Football Conference and allied leagues in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia supported the decision unanimously.

“Canadian junior football has 18 teams with 18 different ideas — no, make it 18 teams with about 50 ideas — but this was a combined decision and every organization had a chance to provide input,” Pankovich continued. “It has been a long process.”

The Edmonton Huskies, Edmonton Wildcats and Calgary Colts are affected by the decision. All teams were part of the national negotiation.

Coupled with a previous USports decision to wipe out university football across the country in 2020, the junior move leaves only the Canadian Football League as an option for players and fans, with a decision due from the struggling CFL soon, after a bid for $30 million in federal support money is evaluated.

Pankovich, Prairie Football Conference leader Curtis Craig and Edmonton Huskies owner Bob Bula mentioned in separate telephone conversations Thursday afternoon that the COVID-19 regulations made it impossible to consider a 2020 season. All three mentioned the importance of keeping players involved .

“:Small-group sessions and skill-specific training” were mentioned by Pankovich as a necessity for all teams. He and others mentioned that the game is as important for the lessons it provides to young males as it is for the actual on-field competition.

As soon as the announcement became public, there was serious suggestion that high school players hoping to move into junior ranks and current juniors designing their athletic future around possible participation in university programs.may run into traffic jams because eligibility issues are more complicated than before.

Huskies head coach Iain MacLean agreed fully with the decision: “it’s about the safety of our players and all the others who would have to work with us during the virus.”

He lamented that “this will be the first year of my life without a football season since I was 10 years old” and suggested there will be less pressure than anticipated on young players competing against more potential teammates than usual.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few of the young guys just stop playing,” he added, “and I think a lot of coaches will be considering the same thing.”

Bula insisted that there was no opposition to government regulations that limit the number of persons — 50 in any on-field cohort at one time — able to participate in games. “We might need as many as 100 or more, including other staff.”

Craig, who also is vice-president of the national governing body, said no Prairie team has the potential to develop a “hub” similar to those now employed by the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association.

For CFL fans the last refuge is always hope

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Alberta

Alberta Liberals appoint John Roggeveen as interim party leader

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CALGARY, United Kingdom — Alberta’s Liberals have appointed a Calgary lawyer to hold the party’s top job months after the resignation of its former leader. 

The party issued a statement saying its board of directors named John Roggeveen to the role, but offered few other details. 

The party, which currently holds no seats in the provincial legislature, has been without a leader since November when David Khan stepped down to pursue a job in his previous field of law.

Roggeveen, too, is a lawyer by trade, most recently practising privately in Calgary. 

Liberal Party President Helen Mcmenamin describes him as “the ideal candidate” for the role, citing “years of political experience and a deep commitment to building the Party and serving Albertans.”

Roggeveen says it’s an honour to take the party reins and is pledging to bolster its presence in the province’s political landscape. 

“Good policies are one of the strengths of our party, but good organization will be the foundation for successfully implementing them,” he said in the statement. “My focus will be on creating a stronger organization so that the Alberta Liberals will be a force in the next election.”

The Liberals were once the province’s official Opposition, but after a high of 32 seats in 1993, the party suffered from ups and downs until it fell to third-party status in the legislature in 2012.

It secured a seat for only one member in 2015 and was shut out of the legislature entirely during the most recent election in April 2019.

Saturday’s statement neither specified the expected length of Roggeveen’s stint as party leader nor spelled out the process for choosing a permanent successor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Wayne Middaugh leads Howard rink to victory in its opening game of Tim Hortons Brier

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CALGARY — It was a triumphant return to the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier for Wayne Middaugh.

With Glenn Howard ailing, Middaugh led Howard’s Wildcard 3 team to a 9-5 win over Gregory Skauge of Northwest Territories in the opening game of the tournament for both rinks Saturday.

Middaugh originally joined Howard’s rink last month as a fifth but was forced into action after Howard suffered broken ribs in a snowmobile accident.

A broken leg derailed Middaugh’s competitive playing career in January 2016 when he was Howard’s vice at the time.

Middaugh was on crutches at the Brier that season to help the team from the coaching bench.

Middaugh last actively played in the Brier in 2013.

A Canadian Curling Hall of Famer, Middaugh has won Brier and world gold medals at three different positions.

He and Howard won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup.

On Saturday, the Wildcard 3 team cemented its win with three in the ninth end.

In other action, New Brunswick’s James Grattan defeated Mike McEwen (Wildcard 1) 6-3, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs got past Yukon’s Dustin Mikkelsen 11-3 in eight ends and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson edged Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher 5-4.

Two more draws were scheduled for later Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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