IT’S been a long time coming for sporting codes in Tairāwhiti who are chomping at the bit to get back on the field after delaying their seasons for several weeks.
With level one now in place, there will no longer be limits on gathering numbers and no physical distancing but, contact tracing and hygiene will continue.
It’s been a challenging time for the sporting sector with the majority forecasting significant financial implications from COVID-19.
Kylie Turuwhenua-Tapsell, General Manager of Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti said, “It’s a huge relief that our codes can start their season without having significant restrictions in place.
“The lockdown really highlighted the role that being physically active plays in keeping us mentally well and with a return to unrestricted sport and recreation, this will reinforce the social, whānau and community connections that come with being part of a team or sporting community.
“It will also be important for our sporting sector to understand that whānau will continue to experience other barriers in the coming months. Barriers such as reduced whānau income, balancing time and readiness to return to play or even just making it fun to play again are all considerations we’ll need to be aware of and adapt accordingly.”
Horouta Waka Ama Committee Member and Head Coach, Kiwi Campbell said, “Our local paddling community is excited about the move to level 1 and being able to move back to our norm of paddling pre-COVID.
“The ability to mix and mingle freely embodies the culture of our sport, however, we must continue to stay vigilant around hygiene.”
Poverty Bay Rugby Union Chief Executive, Josh Willoughby said, “We planned for a lot of scenarios and having the best-case one come out on top was just the icing on the cake for a return to community rugby.
“Our clubs have been awesome, each completing a return to play health and safety plan that’s been signed off by the Council in preparation for playing under Alert Level 2. These aren’t required under alert level 1 but with these plans ready there should be no disruption should we return to level 2.
Willoughby was relieved to hear there will be no limits on gathering numbers as it has taken a huge amount of pressure off some of the rugby clubs whose grounds were open spaces – which would have been difficult to track the number of people coming in and out.
Gisborne Netball Centre Manager, Alissa Hall said, “We’re rapt with the timing to move to Level 1. The logistics of coordinating everyone at Victoria Domain was looking to be tricky, and we were most likely going to have to discourage spectators as much as possible. Under Level 1 this is not a concern, and we are looking forward to welcoming our netball community and supporters back.”
Competitions for each sport in our region will be starting at various times over the next few weeks so keep an eye out in the herald for the sports draws and on your club/regional sports organisations social media pages for more information.