By Romy Stephens
The Lilydale and Yarra Valley Netball Association (LYVNA) is gearing up to get back on court, with Saturday competition confirmed to return this month.
All clubs and teams within the association are expected to return for a 14 week season, commencing on 25 July.
LYVNA president Simon Grimes said the return to play would look quite different, with some Covid-19 restrictions still in force, but it was exciting to have a start date on the horizon.
“We’ve had to change our fixture, the length of games and time between the games but we think it’s manageable, time will tell,” he said.
“The main difficulty is we’re a junior sport… the limit at the moment is one parent per player.
“We’ve tried to give them (families and players) advice and hopefully teammates, clubs or other families are able to help each other out.
“Spectators can watch from outside the perimeter of our facility. Most games you can view from the park outside our reserve.”
It’s expected that over 200 teams from the association’s 20 clubs will enter this season. At this stage, no clubs have signalled they would not return due to safety concerns.
It is understood that the competition return will also feature designated spectator zones separate from player benches, separated player benches between games and continual cleaning of facilities and equipment.
Mr Grimes said the association would do its best to accommodate spectators that aren’t able to enter the courts.
“I feel for the single mothers or split families that have to juggle multiple kids with only one parent and also for some of them it will be their first game. To not be able to have their mum and dad and grandparents come watch will be hard.”
“Hopefully we’ll still be able to have the spectators that aren’t able to enter the court, still able to watch from a distance.”
The disrupted season is set to have a financial impact on the association, but Mr Grimes said it was important to get competition up and running.
“We are losing money this year and running the season without a full canteen operating,” he said.
“That will cost us but we think it’s more important to get some normality where we can, and as soon as we can, into the lives of our players and our families.
“Ultimately we run the game for the kids, not the spectators.”
Mr Grimes said many families were “as keen as mustard” to get back out on court.
“We’re excited for the first round of the season, with all the Under 9s in their first season with their dresses too big and all their smiling faces,” he said.
“Even though the spectators won’t be there I’m sure the kids will enjoy it.
“It’s not until you get back out there that you realise how much it means to everybody.”
Return to play in the LYVNA will be optional with players, families or clubs able to opt out if they wish.
For more information, visit lyvna.vic.netball.com.au.