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MCAC Decides To Make 'Game Day Decision' Regarding 2020 Season

The athletes have spoken and the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) has listened, deciding last Friday to prolong their decision date to September 16th pertaining to the playing or cancellation of the 2020 soccer season.

The MCAC is one of only two Canadian post secondary athletics conferences still working at plans for a 2020-21 season that would have competitions this fall. Most leagues made early decisions in the spring to cancel 2020-21 seasons due to the pandemic, leaving many athletes undecided as to whether to return to school in September.

"Information that we have gathered from other conferences that belong to the CCAA, show that most student-athletes would have prefered more of a 'wait and see' approach to the season to see where things are at in terms of the virus-risk and playing the season," said CMU Athletics Director, Russell Willms who also serves at Vice President Technical for the MCAC. "The MCAC is quite different than other provincial conferences, in that our member campusus are all in and around Winnipeg or in Brandon. We can work a schedule without the need to overnight in hotels and with just five competing teams, our bubble is also small in terms of participating athletes."

Working against the MCAC's progress is the rapid increase in confirmed corona virus cases over the past three weeks in Manitoba. Though running on shaky legs, sanctioned soccer is still being played in the urban centre of Winnipeg, however the city of Brandon, where the BU Bobcats and ACC Cougars have their campuses, is Manitoba's only "code orange" zone, and regular competitive soccer and not return to the area since it was returned to Phase 2 on August 19th.

"At that time, we simply adjusted our schedule, moving the first scheduled week of matches, to provide an additional week for things to improve in the province," said Willms, alluding to the new MCAC start date of September 18th. "We are hopeful that soccer will be back to Phase 3 on September 16th and we can proceed with the schedule we have planned with all the safety precautions we have been working on as a team. We want our athletes to experience some sense of normality this fall and we are doing what we can to accomplish that."

The date of September 16th was selected strategically by the conference as the day falls exactly 28 days, or two-full incubation cycles, after the Priarie Mountain Health Region was placed on "code orange" status.

The Blazers are scheduled to play away on September 18th in Otterburne to face the Providence Pilots before returning home to the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex to host the ACC Cougars on September 19th. The MCAC will not allow any spectators for the 2020 soccer season as part of their safety measures.

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