International student-athletes faced many problems during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak following the rise in tension regarding travel and health risks between Canada and their host countries. Some were unable to travel home while others were unable to re-enter. After the TRU Wolfpack announced they would uphold scholarships, so long as athletes were in Kamloops and present for training sessions, the risk of missing out on school funding was on the line.
“Obviously it was difficult for me. At the time, my home country of Spain was one of the worst-hit countries. I was worried for my family and friends back home,” Barcelona native, and captain of men’s soccer, Jan Pirettas stated. “I made the decision to stay over the summer because it seemed safer here. I also was not sure if I’d be let back into Canada come the school year.”
The TRU men’s soccer team hosts the highest number of international student-athletes of all the Wolfpack teams. This year they have seven players from overseas; however, two of them were unable to make it back.
“I was planning on coming from Germany in early August in preparation for the season training camp. However, I was unable to receive my study permit and therefore could not enter the country,” new signing Jost Hausendorf explained. “I applied for it in early April and because of COVID-19, they have halted accepting applications. Because of all this trouble, I am a lot more anxious about the process of getting inside the country. I have been planning this move to Canada for the past year and my biggest fear is that it will not work out for some reason.”
For those that were lucky enough to travel back to Canada, a two-week quarantine was mandatory. The TRU Wolfpack organized dorm rooms on campus for international athletes to individually self-quarantine before they could return to play.
“Isolation was very difficult as sitting in dorms for two weeks straight would drive anyone insane. We were not even allowed to go for a walk,” Callum Etches from men’s soccer remarked. “There was difficulty getting shopping to the dorm, but after a few days my teammates and I figured out a good system in terms of getting food and supplies.”
Etches wasn’t the only one forced to self-quarantine as first-year American Chloe Nadeau from the women’s soccer team also experienced the procedure on campus.
“The experience was pretty challenging honestly. I had to do it for two weeks and wasn’t prepared for how strict it was. It was hard to stay in shape after being alone in a room for two weeks,” admitted Nadeau.
The Montana native added, “I wasn’t in my actual room where I now reside, so I wasn’t able to move in completely while in quarantine. This obviously was an inconvenience.”
The situation for TRU international athletes is difficult. Many were forced to spend the summer away from their families during a global pandemic.
With Christmas break on the horizon, those same athletes have already booked a ticket to reunite with loved ones: running a risk of not being able to return for the second semester. As we all know too well, the virus situation is ever-changing and we are at the mercy of the precautions put in place by different governments.