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H1N1 worries not just a hockey matter, EYHA president says

A local minor hockey executive says he does not believe there is any greater risk of contracting the H1N1 virus at the rink, than in any other areas of the community.

East York Hockey Association President Art Kennedy downplayed any notions that only hockey parents need to be concerned about their children’s safety.

H1N1 concerns are more widespread than just in hockey arenas.


“It’s not just in the hockey arena, it’s every day at school, it’s every day in the washrooms at school, in the gymnasiums at school, it’s in the hockey arenas here but it’s all the same scenario,” he said at the East York Arena on Wednesday night.

Concern about the illness, especially among the GTA sporting community, reached a high after 13-year-old Etobicoke hockey player Evan Frustaglio died on Monday, apparently of complications related to the virus.

One coach of the EYHA says that since that scare his players have been avoiding close physical interaction amongst one other.

“There’s more just touching gloves now as opposed to the normal contact you find in sports between players,” he said.

Hand washing by both players and coaches after games has also become common-place in the dressing room.

An emergency meeting was set for thursday at the East York Civic Centre, called by Toronto Public Health in an effort to implement measures to prevent or contain the spread of this communicable illness.

Kennedy was to be one of those present.

“I just found out about it tonight,” he said. “They might be coming up with recommendations [to deal with H1N1] for community-based organizations like us, figure skating clubs, curling clubs, those who fall into the same category,” he said.

The hockey president thinks parents need to properly educate their children on the risks of the virus in order to stop the spreading within hockey facilities.

“It’s what the parents can get into their kids.  The coaches and parents here are all volunteers anyway so they know what’s going on.”

If on Thursday health officials come down with new measures, such as posting bulletins in and around hockey arenas, Kennedy is ready to fully cooperate.

“If there’s stuff to be posted it will be posted,” he said. “[H1N1] seems to be hitting kids more than anything right now, and we really need to get a handle on it as best as we can.”