Mississauga, Hamilton and Burlington natives stranded in South Africa with field hockey team


Published November 29, 2021 at 3:59 pm

The Canadian junior women's field hockey team is trying to find a way home from South Africa, where it was to compete at the Junior World Cup. (Photo: Jenna Berger Twitter)

Mississauga’s Danielle Husar, Hamilton’s Madison Workman and Burlington’s Mackenzie Williams are among five Ontario members of the Canadian junior women’s field hockey team that’s stranded in South Africa amid growing global concerns over the newest strain of the COVID-19 virus. 

Jenna Berger and Grace Leahy, both of Waterloo, are the other Ontario members of the 20-player squad that was in Potchefstroom, South Africa preparing to compete at the Junior World Cup, which was scheduled to take place Dec. 5-16.  

But last week’s discovery in that nation of the newest variant of the coronavirus, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, has left the team scrambling to make arrangements to get home to Canada after the under-21 tournament was cancelled.  

Making matters more difficult is that Canada (and a host of other countries) has, as of Friday, imposed restrictions on travel from South Africa and six other nearby countries. 

So, the team has no firm plan, as of this afternoon, to get home.  

A spokesperson for Field Hockey Canada said in a statement today that all players are “safe and well” as they await word of a way to return to Canada. 

The federal government is reportedly working on bringing the athletes home. 

Canada was slated to begin tournament play against Uruguay, England and Belgium after earning a first-ever gold medal in August at the Junior Pan American Championships in Chile. 

Husar, a forward with the Canadian team, plays midfield for the University of Virginia Cavaliers squad when she’s not playing for her country. The Lorne Park Secondary School graduate is a veteran of international play, having won bronze in Dublin, Ireland in 2019 with Canada’s under-21 team at the 4 Nations Tournament. 

Workman is a defender on the Canadian team and also plays on her NCAA squad at Miami University in Ohio. The Hamilton native is a grad of Craig Kielburger Secondary School in Milton, where she was team MVP in 2015 and 2017. 

Williams, a graduate of Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School in Burlington, is also a defender on the Canadian squad. She attends Virginia Commonwealth University and started all 10 games for her university field hockey team this season. 

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