Community Coaching at Halifax Dunbrack While Combatting the Covid-19 Virus
Interview with Dr. Ross Davidson: Director, Microbiology
Depts. of Pathology and Medicine (infectious diseases)
Nova Scotia Health
Professor, Dalhousie University
Depts. of Pathology, Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology
Dr. Ross Davidson volunteer coaches the Dunbrack Demolition Senior A Women, who compete in the MSWSL.
1. As a doctor you have experienced first-hand the Coronavirus COVID-19. Can you share some thoughts on your dealings and how you feel about it today?
- It’s been a roller-coaster ride. I’m particularly proud of my staff at the hospital. They have worked long hours, given up their vacation, and have managed to ensure an unprecedented volume of testing gets processed every day. For the most part, I think NS got it right. Sure, some mistakes were made; sometimes we were over cautious. It’s easy to look back in retrospect and judge, but this is a novel virus, never seen before. We based a lot of what we did on our experience with the Influenza virus. But again, different virus. We’ve learned a lot and if this happens again at some point in the future, the lessons we learned these last 2 years will be invaluable.
- Going forward, I believe we’ve crossed a number of important thresholds. Vaccination is key. As the vaccines roll out and the population develops immunity, a return to normal life shouldn’t be that far away.
2. Even with your busy schedule, you still find time to volunteer coach with HDSC. How did you get started in coaching and how long have you been working with this group of young ladies at Halifax Dunbrack Soccer Club?
- I grew up in Manitoba; played youth soccer and several years at the university level. After my first university degree, I took several years off before returning to school and began coaching at that time. In Winnipeg, I coached U13 and U15 boys. I moved to Halifax in 1998 and have been with Dunbrack for more than 15 years. My Dunbrack coaching career began with Dunbrack Technical Director Ratomir Kovacevic’s invitation. I had simply wandered up to SNS to watch a few games and ended up standing on the sideline where I met Ratomir. The particular team I was watching had no coach. By the end of the game, I had a team! My daughter subsequently became involved with Dunbrack and that has kept me coaching on the female side of the game.
- I’ve coached several of the players on my senior women’s team since they were at the U12 level and a number from U14 and U16. It’s been amazing to watch them develop over the years. It’s my hope that if I can continue to give them a good experience and provide a platform where they can play, have some success, enjoy the game and socialize with friends, that they’ll continue to play for life.
3. What are some of the successes you have experienced with this particular group?
- This senior women’s team is relatively new. This summer will be the start of our 3rd season together. Despite being a new team, these young women have already become a force. During our first season, we placed 3rd in the winter season and 2nd in the summer. Our second season saw the team win both the winter and summer leagues. Another successful season will see us promoted into the top division.
4. What has been the players’ reactions regarding the health protocols and the past winter “return to play”?
- Without a doubt everyone was relieved to get back on the pitch. As a group, no one was overly concerned about the health protocols that were put in place. They recognized the importance of adhering to the guidelines and as a group followed them without question. Most would have agreed to anything just to begin playing again. I don’t believe anyone felt unsafe.
5. What benefits have you noticed in these young women since they have returned to compete and socialize?
- There’s no question in my mind that returning to play has had a huge impact on the players’ well-being. Certainly, many of the players missed the physical activity associated with playing, but I believe the emotional and mental aspect of interacting with their teammates has been immeasurable. Standing on the sideline, I could clearly see the group dynamic. Frankly, without this release, I suspect their “pandemic experience” would have been significantly different.
6. How are you feeling about the “return to play” directives given your career in medicine and working closely with infection control measures?
- From an infection control perspective, I had no concerns about the return of play. The unidirectional flow of individuals entering and exiting the facility and use of masks until on the pitch were great and appropriate. I actually believe the facility went much further than required or necessary. Teams did not switch sides during games and the goal posts/netting were disinfected between games. Why, I don’t know; it’s overkill, and nonsensical from an infection control perspective.
7. Do you feel we can come back this summer even better than last summer’s training and competitions directives?
- Quite frankly, we should have been on the pitch last summer. There was virtually no community transmission after May 2020 last season. We know that transmission of this virus, or any respiratory virus is exceedingly uncommon in an outdoor setting. Once we get this latest outbreak (Apr-May 2021) under control, I see no reason why competitive outdoor sports should not proceed.
8. What tips or strategies can you share with us as teams prepare for the summer season?
- Personally, I’m very aware that my fitness has suffered due to the long work hours and lack of physical activity. Players, particularly those that did not participate in the winter season, should begin training immediately. Simply getting outside and running will go a long way to prepare for the summer. Players should also take comfort in knowing that outdoor transmission is exceedingly rare.
9. The pandemic has impacted the globe, and of course, our soccer world. What are your thoughts on the crisis?
- Both youth and professional sports have suffered immensely. I suspect both may feel the effects of this for several years, but it will get better. We all love this sport. But more importantly, I believe this pandemic has shown us the value of our teammates, the friendships we form, and the camaraderie associated with coming together once or twice a week to share a common passion. I don’t think any of us will take that for granted anymore.
10. Any final words of wisdom on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Influenza pandemics typically occur 3-4 times a century. The 1918 Spanish influenza virus decimated the globe. People should understand that our knowledge of infection control, modern ICUs and the ability to develop novel vaccines prevented a repeat of that calamity. I recognize the hardships that have been endured during this pandemic. As bad as this pandemic has been, it would have been significantly worse without the interventions that took place. We are in the 3rd wave, historically that is the worst of any pandemic. But, with vaccines being rolled out and warmer weather of the horizon I believe we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very hopeful we can have a reasonably normal summer and look forward to seeing my team back on the pitch.
HDSC would like to thank Dr. Ross Davidson for his commitment to working with Dunbrack’s Senior A Women. Also, on behalf of the HRM community, we sincerely thank Dr. Ross Davidson for his tireless efforts on the front lines of Covid-19.
CLICK HERE to see Dunbrack Demolition in action!
Interviewed by HDSC staff, May 2022