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BC School Sports rules against Wolves costing team chance to play in provincials

Coach Mike Phelan (back row, far left) is disappointed in the decision by BCSS to disqualify the Grand Forks Wolves from going to the BC High School A Girl's Soccer Tourament. Submitted photo

While other teams in the province had the chance to fight it out for bragging rights on the pitch at respective Girl’s Soccer Provincial Tournaments, the Grand Forks Wolves had their season unceremoniously ended in the boardroom after BC School Sports ruled the team used ineligible players.

The Wolves thought they would be in Kelowna Thursday, representing the zone at the BC High School A Girl’s Soccer Championships.

However, those dreams were dashed when it was revealed the team used ineligible players — two from another school — disqualifying the squad from playing in the provincial tournament.

But those ineligible players were not stars from some satellite school flown in on a charter for the weekend playoff tournament.

Instead, the Wolves, realizing in April it would be difficult to field a team with players only from Grand Forks Secondary, asked two Grade 7 players from a local elementary school to join the team.

“It was my mistake,” said coach and Grand Forks Secondary vice-principal Mike Phelan said of the story that has gone viral, landing on the front page of the Vancouver Province newspaper.

"I should have filed an application with the association’s “eligibility officer” to get the players approved."

The ruling not only cost the Wolves a spot in the provincials, but also a $200 fine for the violation.

According to association policy that allows a team to fill a sparse roster with Grade 7s, those players must be students at the same school and can only participate in Grade 8 or bantam team sports. 

After learning of the rule infraction, B.C. School Sports, deemed those games forfeited and the team no longer qualified for the tournament.

Phelan, who acknowledged a mistake was made by not filing the application had hoped BC School Sports reconsider the decision.

“Some of the rules are antiquated and need to reflect current trends in rural-school populations,” said Phelan, whose offer to not coach in the provincials was rejected by BCSS.

In the end the members of the BCSS board had the final say.

Nakusp Cougars and Fernie Falcons represented the Kootenays at the 16-team A Girl’s Soccer Championships.

The two teams are winless after the first day of the tournament.