Flexibility should keep teams on the field

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North Otago’s sporting leaders are hopeful they will still get a season played this year, although what that looks like is still unknown.

Earlier this week, Sport New Zealand released information about what sports can go ahead at each Covid-19 alert level.

Level 2 appears to be the highest level most sports can go ahead at, but there will be several restrictions.

North Otago Rugby chief executive Colin Jackson said club rugby was the priority this year, and he was hopeful the Citizens Shield could start as early as June.

The Heartland Championship would not go ahead this year.

“There is basically a window of opportunity right up until Christmas time,” Jackson said.

“Club rugby could look like it’s never looked like before, and be played in the spring.”

A later season could require co-ordination with other organisations for the use of sports fields, but Jackson said that could be worked through.

There was also the possibility of playing Friday-night games under lights at Maheno and Kurow, he said.

“At the moment we are very hopeful we can get some club rugby in this year.”

With no Heartland Championship this year, North Otago will hold on to the Meads Cup until 2021. However, games could possibly be arranged against South or Mid Canterbury, Jackson said.

“We just have to work outside the square the whole time and try and manage it,” he said.

North Otago Hockey president Jared Ovens said his sport was also focusing first and foremost on “community”.

Representative tournaments had been cancelled, unless teams organised their own local matches, Ovens said.

“We want to get the kids playing as much as they can, just for the rest of the year, and then looking at getting this other stuff going,” he said.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, hockey was already starting to focus more on participation than elite teams, he said.

“It’s more about participation than trying to win a trophy.

“We are trying to target the drop-off in players, and make it more about the fun.”

North Otago Netball president Sonya MacDonald said the committee was waiting for further guidance from Netball New Zealand before it made any solid plans for the season.