Australia’s top netballers may have to wait two more months for their domestic competition to get under way, but the announcement of a start date has injected a sense of excitement back into the sport.
A full Super Netball season will be played from August 1, it was announced on Sunday, with the eight clubs allowed to resume controlled training from Monday.
The fixture list is still being finalised, but chief executive Chris Symington said it would span 60 games, comprising the full double round-robin structure that was set down for the original season planned to start on May 2.
The grand final is likely to take place in November.
— Suncorp Super Netball (@SuperNetball) May 31, 2020
While the start date is still some way off, West Coast Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich said her players are thrilled the uncertainty created by COVID-19 looks to have been vanquished.
“It seems real and you can really grasp it now,” she told ABC Grandstand.
“The excitement’s started to really lift. Sportspeople like routine and they like schedules and they need to know when they can achieve their goals.”
Players have been able to train in pairs for some time but from next week they can gather as a full team, while ensuring they continue to observe safety protocols.
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) May 31, 2020
Each club has agreed to the same government-approved training guidelines to ensure competitive balance, as well as the safety of players and staff.
Clubs can train for no more than 12 hours per week until late June, when it is hoped they can go back to the norm of 23 hours per week.
The initial training period will also feature minimal contact work, with the focus on ball skills and agility.
Marinkovich said her team will prepare for the possibility of having to play their opening matches on the eastern seaboard if state borders have not opened by August 1.
Symington said securing a competition start date was an important step before addressing the complexity of a draw.
“Now all our stakeholders have a date to work towards and fans can start to get excited for the start of the season,” he said.
“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed – those being the health and wellbeing of the community alongside the financial viability of our sport.”