NSSAFFL: Tier 1 Championship venue change sparks controversy

A controversy has been brewing in the days leading up to the Nova Division Tier 1 Championship Final in the Nova Scotia Student Athletic Federation Football League (NSSAFFL).

As per the league’s rules and regulations, the team that has the best overall record in the league would gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, including the Tier 1 championship final.

In 2013, CFC # 33 Charles P Allen Cheetahs, with an 8-0 record earned the first seed; therefore, giving the team that advantage, or so they thought.

The Cheetahs’ home field is the Bedford All-Weather facility, which is located adjacent to the school. Throughout the 2013 season, the team has been playing all their home games, including the showdown with former provincial champions, Citadel Phoenix (which generated over 1000 spectators) and last week’s semi-final game against Horton Griffins.

However, the league announced on Wednesday that the Tier 1 championship game between the Cheetahs and Sir John A MacDonald Flames would be played at Saint Mary’s Huskies Stadium tomorrow.  Clearly, this is not the Cheetahs home field, which caught many, especially the Cheetahs coaches, players and fans off guard.

Even more intriguing was the fact that up until Wednesday’s announcement, it was already decided that the game would be held at the Cheetahs home turf. However, sources have confirmed that emails were sent to the league by concerned parents and community members. Due to the those concerns expressed via emails, the league, in consultation with the two school’s administrations and HRM, changed the venue.

NSSAFFL Commissioner Steve Miller released the following statement explaining why the league changed the location of the championship game:

“The 8-0 finish for Charles P. Allen High School placed them first overall in the league earning the right to be the host for the Tier 1 Championship. In all sports, the NSSAF supports schools being able to host championships at their own locations. In all possible cases we try to build community spirit around school sports and support local areas by bringing folks into the community for these championships. However, it is not always possible to coordinate both running a successful championship and hosting in a local setting.”

“The exceptions to this occur when a site may not be fully functional for the event. In these cases, the NSSAF in consultation with the school Principal will make a decision on another suitable venue.  It was this situation that occurred this week regarding the use of the Bedford All Weather facility. The All-Weather facilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) belong to the HRM and are under their control, not that of the schools. Charles P. Allen High School is very fortunate to have this facility located next to their school; it is the only one that is in close proximity to a school in HRM.  This leads us to refer to it as the CPA field and they did use it all year through the regular season and playoffs as did other schools in HRM. The NSSAFFL has tremendous working relationship with the HRM facility office and they have been able to assist us in running our football league for many years and maintain great facilities”

“They do however admit that not all of their facilities are built for large number of spectators. They build high class facilities for athletes to use and small numbers of spectators to watch. The seating capacities at the two venues we use, belonging to HRM, are Harbour East (Burnside) which has seating for approximately 600 and the Bedford All Weather field has seating for only 400. This information caused concern for HRM facility management and NSSAF, given the historical data of crowds of over 2000 at last year’s final.”

“It was the NSSAF in consultation with the HRM Facilities Office and the school Principals of Charles P. Allen High School and Sir John A High School that made the decision to move the Tier 1 Championship game to another suitable venue that had seating capacity to hold the anticipated crowds. The facility at St. Mary’s University has been used in the past to host this event and was available for use at the time we needed it.

This was not an easy decision and it certainly was not taken lightly.”

However, is this really a safety issue or is politics involved in this decision?

McPherson was disappointed that the team was not involved in decision making process and questions the timing of this decision.

“The league had several opportunities to address this matter throughout the 2013 NSSAFFL season there have been some very large crowds at the facility all year,” explained McPherson.  “The NSSAF, NSSAFL, HRM and the CPA administration were 100 percent aligned and onboard with the game being held at the CPA Turf facility up until Wednesday. “

“Without getting into all the details, some e-mails were exchanged from members of another community in regards to their concern of the  CPA turf facility being inadequate.  Again, we are just very disappointed as Student Athletes and Coaches following the NSSAF rule book that our vested interests were not taken into consideration and that we were not at the very least consulted.  Home field is certainly a big deal in sports.  It is what players and coaches work hard all regular season for. “

Once the season concludes on Sunday,  it is the hope that the league will re-evaluate the regulations regarding this issue.

I think when the season ends, the league/NSSAF will need to revisit the process in place as this particular situation is going to set an interesting precedent going forward,” expressed McPherson.  “For now, we must allocate 100 percent of our focus on Sunday’s game and a very good football team over at Sir John A.”

“We have worked too hard all year to have any distractions like this ruin such a great opportunity.”

Equally, Citadel Phoenix Co-Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Lawley is disappointed upon learning of the news and unsure why the league has forced the change of venue.

“I am very disappointed to hear the news that CPA will not be able to host the Championship Game at their field which is their right as the number 1 seed,” expressed Lawley.  “The CPA football team worked hard all year to attain the right to host and they should be granted such.”

“It is truly unfair and unjust to make this decision and appears there was no consultation with Head Coach Mike McPherson.  How is the field acceptable for Semi-Final play and not the Final?”

Instead of preparing for the championship game, the Cheetahs have been faced with this distraction. Miller hopes that the focus will fall back on the accomplishments and achievements of the two teams involved in the Tier 1 championship final, not the ruling on the location of the championship game.

“It is hoped that both teams can now focus on preparing for the game rather than on the venue,” said Miller.  “The football programs at both of these schools did something that has not been done in a while, that is to beat Citadel.”

“Charles P. Allen High School did in the regular season going 8-0 and Sir John A High School accomplished the same task in round one of the playoffs. Both teams should be very proud of their accomplishments this season and I am looking forward to a tremendous match up on Sunday.”

Photo credit:  Karrie-Ann Buchanan

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  1. Avatar Football Mom says:

    This is 100% about the size of the venue and nothing else, not because it was these two specific teams playing each other. There were approximately 2000 spectators at last years High School Championship and it appeared this year that there were similar numbers as well. The Bedford field is not suitable for those numbers and this as far as I am concerned, and a lot of others, this was the only reason for changing the venue. Would it be fair for some parents, students, teachers, former football alumni and all other supporters of both teams to have to miss out because the Bedford field doesn’t fit all the fans? Would there have been a different outcome for the game if it was held at the Bedford field? Maybe, maybe not. There also might have been a different outcome if it was raining, or it snowed or it was colder, or the sun was too bright, etc. The decision was made for all the reasons listed by BOTH schools and the NSSAF, otherwise fans from BOTH teams would have had to miss out on watching their teams play in this championship game.

  2. Avatar Marion Bremner says:

    Unbelievable…..No one had brains enough to figure this out until 4 days before the final? I guess rules are made to be broken……Why now? This is happening because these two particular teams are playing each other, not the venue.

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