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Sport in North Otago has come to a standstill. Most tournaments and competition games have been cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19. Rebecca Ryan and Kayla Hodge find out what impact lockdown has had on North Otago’s winter competitions.

NETBALL

“If it isn’t bad weather it’s Covid.”

North Otago Netball is rolling with the punches this season, after rain forced the cancellation of more than half of the scheduled competition games and the Level 4 lockdown put the final scheduled games on hold.

Finals of the senior competition were to be held tomorrow, and president Sonya Macdonald said the committee was working had behind the scenes to end the season on a high.

North Otago Netball would like to finish the season before the October school holidays and before summer sports got under way, Macdonald said.

“The best solution for us is that we’re moving to Level 2 over the next couple of weeks, and then we can roll out two, three, maybe four, games,” she said.

“We certainly don’t want it to just end with nothing.

“Hopefully, we can finish on a high with some sort of netball for everyone.”

If the Waitaki district moved to Level 2 tomorrow, it was unlikely games would go ahead due to the short turnaround for players to prepare, Macdonald said. But updates would be posted to the North Otago Netball Facebook page.

“We have plenty of plans in place – it’s just which option is going to go into play for us.”

The committee had faced more than its fair share of challenges this season.

“It’s been really hard and frustrating, and I’m sure people just think I get to a Saturday morning and love cancelling netball just because I can – which is not the case at all.

“We’d prefer to be out there and being involved with our community and playing the sport that we all love.”

RUGBY

North Otago’s Heartland season will have to wait.

The Old Golds were scheduled to get their campaign under way last Saturday against South Canterbury, and would have played Buller in Westport tomorrow.

However, New Zealand Rugby postponed both games due to Level 4, and no rugby could be played until Level 2.

North Otago Rugby chief executive Colin Jackson said the two opening matches would now be played as the last two rounds of the season.

“We can’t do anything about it. All Heartland unions are committed that we can push it out a couple of weeks. If it goes beyond that then that becomes something else doesn’t it,” Jackson said.

All players were given daily “workouts” from training and conditioning coach Glen Sturgess to keep fit during lockdown. They were “eager and waiting”, Jackson said.

All other representative rugby and secondary-school level matches were also on hold.

North Otago was scheduled to host the Farmlands Cup for under-15 teams next week, but it had been postponed.

Jackson said the cancellation of South Island Secondary School tournament week was a “terrible shame”, and was tough on all players.

FOOTBALL

Junior football may be one of the more fortunate sports in North Otago, the Football Waitaki league wrapping up its season a few weeks ago.

However, Football Waitaki’s planned football festival has been cancelled.

President Twyla Kingan said cancelling was the only option.

About 20 teams from as far away as Geraldine, Wanaka, and Invercargill would have travelled for the festival.

“It’s disappointing because we were looking forward to hosting something that was that big in Oamaru for the first time, but it’s understandable,” Kingan said.

“You obey the rules and you want to be safe for everybody.”

While South Island Secondary School tournament week was cancelled, there was no indication about the future of the South Canterbury football leagues, in which a lot of Waitaki secondary schools played. Kingan said the future of those competitions was “unclear”.

There could still be hope for the representative season though, with tournaments scheduled for September and October.

HOCKEY

Waitaki Boys’ High School and Pirata White will have to wait just a little bit longer.

The two teams were scheduled to play the in the senior North Otago Hockey final last weekend, but it has been postponed due to lockdown.

A post on the North Otago Hockey Association Facebook page said the committee was waiting for today’s announcement before making a call.

All junior hockey was also on hold and there were no representative trainings.