Netball New Zealand and the ANZ Premiership are working through the final phases of their return to play plan following the Government’s decision to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2.
A 10-week ANZ Premiership season is set to resume on Friday 19 June and will be played at one location, Auckland Netball Centre, in order to meet the Ministry of Health guidelines providing a consistent and controlled venue.
The priority for teams is to set up safe and compliant training environments. When this is achieved and players and staff have been appropriately inducted, teams will be able to recommence training under Level 2.
The revised competition schedule will be announced in due course.
Netball NZ Chief Executive Jennie Wyllie said the team had been working hard to ensure they could get New Zealand’s elite domestic Netball competition up-and-running in a safe way.
“We are really excited to be so close to getting the ANZ Premiership back on court and live on Sky Sport,” she said.
“We are mindful of playing our role in helping to contribute to New Zealand’s economy in this environment and a start-date for this competition means another part of the economy up and running with more people returning to work.”
Wyllie said it had taken plenty of creative thinking in planning a return-to-play with a key focus on the welfare of athletes and officials involved.
“I know there is a lot of interest in seeing our teams back in action but we also need to make sure that we have a robust set of guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone.”
Games for the 10-week league will be televised live on Sky Sport but will have no crowds to ensure that numbers for a gathering at an indoor venue remain under 100.
Strict distancing rules will be applied off the court and Netball NZ has been working through contact tracing mechanisms.
Wyllie said both Netball NZ’s High Performance, NZ Netball Players Association and medical teams had come together to work on a timeframe for enabling athletes to return to the court.
“We have allowed for a four-week training period for teams to get together, following the guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Health, to prepare for the ANZ Premiership.”
Sky Chief Executive Martin Stewart said the Sky crew was looking forward to bringing live Netball back to living rooms around the country.
“Netball is such a rich part of the fabric of our sporting history in New Zealand and we are as excited as anyone to see these athletes back in action.”