Junior sport to return, but no decision yet on senior sport

The July 1 restart date for junior sport has been confirmed by the NSW Government but state sporting bodies say they need confirmation for senior sport if they’re to have any chance of recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, made the announcement on June 2, sending a shockwave through the state’s sport sector.

He was joined by Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, and acting Sport Minister, Geoff Lee, who confirmed a date for the seniors’ return was yet to be determined.

Hazzard added that COVID-19 safety plans for each individual sport would be critical to enable the restart.

“Sport and businesses will need to do things a little differently than in pre-COVID-19 times and following their safety plan is key to keeping people safe.

“Re-opening kids’ sporting competitions on July 1 gives groups and local government which manages many of these facilities, time to work through all the new changes,” Hazzard said.

But sport bosses say it leaves much to be desired.

Netball NSW CEO, Carolyn Campbell, said the announcement has left her sport in shambles.

“While this is a welcome start, it falls well short of what we were hoping for and what we need in order to be able to move forward in planning for a 2020 season.

“This announcement has left netball with more questions than answers.

“Where do we stand with Premier League, Metro League, Open State Titles, senior competitions, Masters?

“Our community wants information and answers so does Netball NSW.

“Please be assured that Netball NSW is absolutely focused on getting an outcome which provides certainty for senior players and competitions as quickly as possible.

Football NSW CEO, Stuart Hodge, said his sport was also reeling from the lack of clarity.

“Whilst this announcement provides a welcome greenlight for the restart of junior and youth football, the return date for senior football remains unset, continuing uncertainty for tens of thousands of players.

“I want to reassure players Football NSW is doing everything on your behalf to get clarity as to what that date will be.

“I know that many teams have commenced training and like you, I am keen to get everyone back playing as soon as possible,” Hodge said.

NSW Rugby League CEO, David Trodden, was in accord.

“We remain hopeful that the NSW Government will also approve a return to play for adult teams in the very near future, recognising the central role that sport plays in our community and the positive impact that sport can have in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” Trodden said.

It’s understood several sporting bodies have since met with Minister Lee regarding that matter, but any outcomes have yet to be communicated to the public.

With the clock ticking on the feasibility of a delayed winter season and its unavoidable collision with the start of the summer sport season, how grassroots competitions on the Coast will pan out remains to be seen.

Press conference, Jun 2
John Barilaro, Brad Hazzard, Geoff Lee, NSW Government
Media statements, Jun 2
Carolyn Campbell, Netball NSW
Stuart Hodge, Football NSW
David Trodden, NSW RugbyLeague
Reporter: Dilon Luke