First signs of a possible return to a competitive Netball League have been revealed by Netball NZ
A single venue will be used when the ANZ Netball Premiership resumes under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 and it’s likely to be in Auckland.
The government confirmed today that professional sport will be able to resume when the country moves into Alert Level 2, so long as the necessary public health measures are in place.
Netball New Zealand Chief Executive Jennie Wyllie said they were excited to move forward with the return of the elite domestic competition, when there was a move to level two.
The government will make that decision on Monday.
Just one full round was played in March before the country went into lockdown.
Wyllie said it was an important part of the sports economic recovery to get the ANZ Premiership running again.
The rules around mass gatherings would still apply during Alert Level 2 meaning the Premiership won’t be played in front of crowds.
Wyllie said they were working with the Ministry of Health and WorkSafe to make sure they would be able to comply with regulations.
“In terms of training bubbles, home bubbles and playing bubbles. What it means in terms of domestic travel, lots of things in terms of hygiene and those basic medical protocols. First and foremost this is making sure that our people are safe and so whatever measures need to be put into place need to be really robust.”
She said once New Zealand moved to Level 2, it would be about another four weeks before competition would start.
“We first need to be able to return to training so that the athletes are ready …we kind of think that’s the minimum period of time to prepare our athletes, and get their bodies ready for what they need to be able to bring on court.
“After that we think we’ll be able to facilitate a 10 week competition in a single venue and the athletes will come in for the weekend, play their games and then return home to their own bubble.”
She said teams would be able to move around the country but it would have to be very controlled.
“We are focussing on a single venue, we feel that’s our best way to minimise exposure and to be able to meet the requirements of Ministry of Health.”
Wyllie said they were currently looking at Auckland as an option.
She believed they would be able to get through the majority of the games originally slated for the ANZ Premiership, under a truncated format.
“I think predominantly each team will have one game in the first instance but there are some instances where there might be a game on say a Friday and then a game on the Monday but we’re currently looking at all that scheduling.”
She hoped netball fans across the board would be able to get something out of seeing elite players back on court.
“What’s really important is for all Kiwis’ mental well-being to have that sort of inspirational element to our days and have something to look forward to. And I think certainly getting these athletes out on court is going to start to provide that and there will be more of a sense of normality for Kiwis.”
Wyllie said because many players in the competition also had jobs, returning to a deferred league might be difficult for some, who might have to choose between their day job and netball.
“We’re in close communication with our players’ association and this is something that we’re really mindful of and how they might be able to do both. Some are studying so there’s a whole lot of considerations that we’re taking into account and really looking at that on a case by case basis.”