Stranded Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington athletes set to return from South Africa with team


Published December 6, 2021 at 10:41 am

The Canadian junior women's field hockey team is set to return from South Africa. (Photo: Field Hockey Canada)

The Canadian junior women’s field hockey team, which includes players from Mississauga, Hamilton and Burlington, has received an assist from Ottawa in getting home as quickly as possible from South Africa. 

Mississauga’s Danielle Husar, Hamilton’s Madison Workman, Burlington’s Mackenzie Williams and their teammates and coaches are booked on a flight this Wednesday from Johannesburg to Canada, via Frankfurt, Germany, Field Hockey Canada said in its latest online statement. 

The 20-player squad and its five staff members have been stranded in South Africa for nearly two weeks since news of the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, prompted Canada and countries around the world to restrict air travel from 10 African nations. 

Mississauga’s Danielle Husar and her teammates are scheduled to leave South Africa on Wednesday. (Photo: University of Virginia Facebook)

Thanks to a time-limited exemption for Canadian travellers announced on the weekend by the federal government, the Canadian team will be allowed to get negative COVID-19 tests done in South Africa instead of in a third country in transit. 

That’s the plan—for now. 

“The situation is constantly changing and the regulations are always being revised,” Field Hockey Canada said in its statement. “Field Hockey Canada understands this and will continue to be diligent in working on contingency plans to support our athletes and staff and get them home as soon as possible.” 

Madison Workman, from Hamilton, is a defender on the Canadian team.

Jenna Berger and Grace Leahy, both of Waterloo, are the two other Ontario members of the Canadian team that has been staying at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa as it awaits a flight home. 

The squad was in Potchefstroom, about 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg, preparing to compete at the Junior World Cup, which was scheduled to take place Dec. 5-17 before being postponed.  

The discovery in South Africa some 10 days ago of the newest variant of the coronavirus, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, had left the team scrambling to make arrangements to get 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. 

Mackenzie Williams, from Burlington, is a defender on the Canadian squad.

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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