March 5, 2016 7:44 pm
Updated: March 5, 2016 9:13 pm

Cancelled Mexican slo-pitch tournament third strike for Canadian players

WATCH: After numerous red flags, the organizer of an annual slo-pitch tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico abruptly sent Canadian teams a Facebook post saying things aren't going ahead as scheduled. It happened just one week before teams were supposed to head south, leaving them out thousands of dollars. Sarah Kraus explains.

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An eight-day, sunny vacation while playing one of her favourite sports sounded like a great way to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary to Selena Gora.

Gora’s Edmonton slo-pitch team, the Dirty Dawgs, had heard about a slo-pitch tournament in Mexico that had been a lot of fun in previous years. They thought they’d try it themselves.

“It was supposed to be for fun,” Gora said. “It was supposed to take our league team down to Puerto Vallarta and play in a tournament against Mexican teams and teams from the (United) States.”

In total, players on the Dirty Dawgs team paid more than $17,600 – all though e-transfers to the tournament organizer, Calgarian Austin Gunning.

But on Thursday, Gunning used Facebook to tell teams the tournament wasn’t going ahead as scheduled.

Gunning had registered 18 teams , with the vast majority of them coming from Canada.

It’s not just players from Edmonton who are disappointed. Players from Red Deer, Lloydminster and Calgary have all reached out to Global News voicing their concerns about the abrupt change – having already booked babysitters and time off work.

“It was a huge shock,” Gora said. “My initial reaction was I was angry. By the time I got home, I was in tears.”

In a statement to Global News, Gunning wrote, “the last five years, the tournament has been full – 28 teams and we were not dealing with a high U.S. dollar… It is not cancelled, it is postponed till mid-October, the other option is middle of May 2017.”

READ MORE: Softball teams across Canada out thousands of dollars after Mexican tournament cancelled

That doesn’t fly with players.

“All the ball teams, everybody is saying, ‘well, why would we trust you now?'” Gora asked.

She said she feels stupid for ignoring the red flags that popped up along the way, including frequent cost increases.

“So we paid the extra $50 per player, then moved on. About a month, month and a half later, he asked for another $50 per player. Warning bells really went off there.”

The same thing happened to Matthew Bacon and his girlfriend Shelby Spencer last year.

They were asked repeatedly for more money and even told they needed to bring additional equipment down.

Frustrated as they were, the tournament did end up going ahead. They said they were shorted games, but enjoyed the trip overall.

“The ball community made it great,” Bacon said. “Austin’s side of it was not good. It wasn’t organized, they were three to four hours behind, it was ridiculous.”

“I’m thankful that we’re not out any money this year, but we could have been,” Spencer said.

The pair were planning on going again this year, but only if they could book their own hotels and flights in case Gunning didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

But when Spencer became pregnant, they decided not to go at all.

She’s had numerous friends ask her how this could have happened and feels for those losing out, like Gora.

“Step up to the plate, be a man, give us answers and give us our money back!”

© 2016 Shaw Media

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