Winter sports are in limbo but there are hopes for some kind of season for players of team sports like rugby, netball, hockey, football and league.
Although details remain unclear, it appears that team sports will not be back in training until at least Alert Level 2, but preparations are underway for the best-case scenario.
Local hockey could be an exception. Hibiscus Hockey Trust chair Merv Huxford says because the brand new facility at Metro Park East in Millwater has electronic gate and camera control, hockey can manage the ‘traceability’ requirements of Alert Level 3.
“Not even the new facility at Albany can achieve this – in fact we probably the only hockey facility in the country that has this capability,” Merv says.
He says once the country is back to Alert Level 3, under strict guidelines, hockey will be open again in Millwater for groups of family bubble games and practices.
“We have over 100 groups wanting to participate,” Merv says.
Slots of 50 minutes will be pre-booked and hygiene and distancing requirements are strict. Clear zones will be maintained between participating ‘bubbles’ at all times and there will be no access for the general public.
Last May, 24 girls rugby teams from local schools played a tournament at Silverdale Rugby Club.
At a North Harbour Rugby Council of Clubs meeting held on April 7 via Zoom, all clubs were keen to have a season, according to Silverdale United Rugby Football chair Chris Carter.
He says this could possibly commence around June or July and extend for a 12-16-week window. To achieve this North Harbour must obtain the approval of Auckland Council for extended winter season field usage. Currently Silverdale Rugby does not have access to fields past September 30, as Council conducts field maintenance to enable a cross over into summer sports.
In the meantime, Chris says that the club has made arrangements with Hibiscus Cricket, which uses the rugby club’s fields for junior games, for extended use of the fields by rugby teams if required.
In a message circulated to members on April 14, Chris says that the club is financially sound, but under pressure given that minimal revenue is being received (85 percent less than normal) and operating costs are ongoing.
“Most clubs are, like ourselves, keeping their head above water and operating the best they can in these unplanned circumstances,” Chris says.
The club is keeping in touch with senior coaches, managers and players as well as juniors so that teams can get up and running if the opportunity presents.
Football NZ is currently planning for the possibility of training to start on May 16, with the season commencing at the end of May or early June.
Hibiscus Coast AFC president, Scott Beard, says it is important that there be sufficient training time ahead of any games to prevent injuries. He says extending the winter season is being discussed at a high level but there are many unknowns.
Meanwhile, videos have been provided for junior players so they can do skill sessions at home.
Scott says one of the most difficult things about the lockdown was having to stand down four staff who are contracted to the club. He says they are receiving the government wages subsidy and continuing to work as volunteers for the club.
Most clubs are not for profit, but with money drying up and expenses ongoing, they are now relying on small amounts of reserve funds.
“There is no doubt there will be some financial hardship,” Scott says.
Raiders’ final Fox Memorial game last season.
Chair of Raiders League club, Carl Clayton, says when lockdown started the club was told by Auckland Rugby League that there would be no competition until the beginning of May, and so far they have heard nothing different.
He says in lieu of trainings, all players have been asked to stay active within their ‘bubble’ so that when, or if, the season goes ahead they can be as ready as possible.
Rugby League is helping the clubs out financially by covering some of our outgoing costs as a lot of clubs will be having financial issues due to lack of sponsorship (because of no competition) and no income from the club being open,” Carl says.
Whangaparaoa College’s sport department recently advised parents that Netball North Harbour has asked for player registrations to be completed.
This is so that things are ready to go, if or when the season starts.