The president of the Indo-Canadian Summer Soccer Association is being tight-lipped about the future of a controversial ethnic rule in a local soccer league.
Sim Sumra said he hasn't yet had a chance to meet with other board members to discuss Rule 32, a regulation that limits the number of import (non-Indo-Canadian) players to four. The rule is used by the United Summer Soccer Association in Surrey in U13 and U14 boys divisions and U14 girls divisions.
"The season came to an end last week and we will be setting up a time soon to get together and discuss the matter," said Sumra.
Debbie Christiansen, the mother who brought attention to the rule, told the Now her son's team was banned from playing in tournaments because it didn't have enough South Asian players.
The ISSA released a statement Monday in response to the public backlash after the Now broke the story, which sparked a flurry of letters and coverage by other local and national media outlets.
The rule is allowed within the B.C. Human Rights Code because the USSA is a non-profit organization representing an identifiable group.
"Historically, these tournaments have been sponsored by Sikh gurdwaras and, at their heart, are about bringing Indo-Canadian youth together to promote sport, participation and culture within our community," said the release.
"As with all of the Association rules, the volunteer board of directors meets each winter to discuss any and all potential rule changes for the upcoming season," the ISSA's statement continued. "The rule in question will also be assessed, but we as a board remain committed to the spirit of the intent of the league."
When asked about the statement, Sumra said, "We've stated our view about the ethnocultural tournament and there are some positives and negatives."
He added that he hasn't heard from other committee members and does not know how the voting will go.
Despite the ISSA's stance, USSA executive director Mantej Dhillon is confident the rule will change when the vote is taken, which he said could be as early as the end of September.
"I already sent an email to all the clubs to discuss this matter," he said. "As soon as possible, I'm calling a meeting. This is the main issue we want to discuss."
The issue of adding more imports has often come down to a vote of 8-6 on the committee of 14 members.
Christiansen hopes the committee takes more consideration when the next vote is taken.
"I'm hoping that some of those eight people that vote 'no' will decide to vote 'yes,'" she said. "I don't know if they'll totally open it up, or they might make the maximum allowable to six."
If the vote doesn't pass, she said her son and his teammates will likely join another league next year.
"The kids, they just want to play soccer," she said. "All of this shouldn't matter."
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