Joint pro­gram awaits OMHA ap­proval

The Delhi News-Record - - SPORTS - JACOB ROBIN­SON

An ap­pli­ca­tion to join rep­re­sen­ta­tive pro­grams in Sim­coe, Water­ford and Port Dover has been sent to the On­tario Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion (OMHA) for ap­proval.

Back in Oc­to­ber, the News Record re­ported that the three as­so­ci­a­tions were in talks to com­bine for the 201920 cam­paign.

The pro­posal would of­fer mi­nor/ ma­jor squads, which means kids will only com­pete with and against oth­ers born the same year.

“It’s all in with the OMHA, we’re wait­ing for their de­ter­mi­na­tion – the last time I heard it was with their le­gal depart­ment,” said Sim­coe Mi­nor Hockey pres­i­dent Martin Jef­fer­son. “So we’re just wait­ing on re­view of the agree­ment.”

Jef­fer­son said that all three par­ties have ne­go­ti­ated and agreed to the terms sent on to the OMHA.

“We’re just wait­ing for the OMHA to give us feed­back on what the next steps are,” he added. “Ul­ti­mately, they have to ap­prove some­thing and that ap­proval hasn’t gone any­where yet. Ev­ery­one is sort of in limbo right now.”

The OMHA is cur­rently on its Christ­mas break, but the pro­posal – which was dis­cussed at length with OMHA of­fi­cials through­out the month of De­cem­ber – is ex­pected to come be­fore the board at their next meet­ing.

Some rep teams hold try­outs in the spring­time, which means the lo­cal groups have lit­tle time to waste if a new en­tity is to be cre­ated.

“A lot of it de­pends on what comes back from the OMHA, ev­ery­thing is up in the air right now – it’s al­most too early to com­ment on that kind of stuff,” said Jef­fer­son.

“We’ve done a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion – ‘here’s what we want to do, here’s our agree­ments, please re­view them and let us know what our next steps are’. We’ve done all we can do, now it’s a wait­ing game.” Com­bined, the three as­so­ci­a­tions con­tain about 800 to 900 skaters. Those num­bers were once much higher, but a hand­ful of fac­tors (ris­ing costs, travel, time com­mit­ment, etc.) have played a part in the dwin­dling amount of teams in Nor­folk. Water­ford once housed six rep teams and of­ten could put to­gether what’s known as ‘al­ter­nate en­try’ squads that also played at a com­pet­i­tive level. These days the Wild­cats don’t have rep ros­ters at both the novice or ban­tam level.

The trend isn’t spe­cific to Nor­folk – cen­tres have be­gun work­ing to­gether to com­bat de­creas­ing num­bers. Nearby Flam­bor­ough and Dun­das joined forces for this sea­son.

“Small town hockey is kind of dy­ing and you have (non-Hockey Canada sanc­tioned) leagues pop­ping up now and you have kids go­ing there,” Sim­coe Mi­nor Hockey cen­tre con­tact Sarah VanNet­ten said this fall. “So in or­der to stay com­pet­i­tive, you’ve got to move with the times. Even the OMHA sug­gested that this was in our best in­ter­est.”

The agree­ment contains a two-year opt-out pe­riod where each or­ga­ni­za­tion in­volved can re­vert back to their old sys­tem, but that’s an un­likely sce­nario at this point.

“I know some peo­ple are wor­ried their child won’t make a rep team again but there might not be a rep team for them to make if we con­tinue with the way we’re go­ing,” said VanNet­ten.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to grow and of­fer some­thing a lit­tle bet­ter than what we have con­sid­er­ing the dwin­dling num­bers of kids ei­ther play­ing hockey and the dwin­dling num­bers of kids (in Nor­folk County). There’s just not the num­bers there used to be out there.”

FILE PHOTO/ DELHI NEWS RECORD

An ap­pli­ca­tion to join rep­re­sen­ta­tive pro­grams in Sim­coe, Water­ford and Port Dover has been sent to the On­tario Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion (OMHA) for ap­proval.

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