Australia’s top netballers may have to wait another two months for their domestic competition to take place but the announcement of the start date has injected joy back into the sport.
The full Netball Super season will be played starting August 1, announced on Sunday, with eight clubs allowed to continue controlled training from Monday.
The match schedule is still being finalized but chief executive Chris Symington said it would cover 60 matches, consisting of a full double round-robin structure set for the original season planned to start on May 2. The grand final will likely take place in November.
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While the start date is still far away, West Coast Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich says his players are happy with the uncertainty created by COVID-19 that seems to have been defeated.
“It seems real and you can really catch it now,” he told ABC Grandstand.
“Excitement starts to really increase. Sportsmen like routines and they like schedules and they need to know when they can reach their goals.”
The players have been able to practice in pairs for some time but starting next week they can gather as a full team, while ensuring they continue to observe the safety protocol.
Each club has agreed to the same government-approved training guidelines to ensure competitive balance, as well as the safety of the players and staff. The club can train for no more than 12 hours per week until the end of June, when it is hoped they can return to the norm of 23 hours per week.
The initial training period will also feature minimal contact work, focusing on skills and ball agility.
Marinkovich said his team would prepare for the possibility of having to play their opening match on the east coast if the country’s borders had not opened on August 1.
Symington said securing the start date of the competition was an important step before overcoming the complexity of the draw.
“Now all our stakeholders have a date to work and fans can start getting excited for the start of the season,” he said.
“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed – it is the health and well-being of the people besides the financial viability of our sport.”