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In a normal season, the final round of North Otago’s netball competition would be heating up after the school holidays – instead the revised season will just be getting started.

Despite this year’s changes, a good number of teams had registered for the new 10-week winter season and everyone was looking forward to getting back out on court, North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald said.

At a committee meeting on Monday night, it was confirmed there would be eight teams in this year’s premier grade, nine in 1:2, eight in 1:3 and nine in 1:4.

“We’re actually only a couple of teams down on our normal competition, which is great,” Macdonald said.

“Possibly numbers across those teams, though, are a fraction down. Where most teams were made up of probably 10 players, there’s possibly a few running with about eight or nine this year . just because of the year that it is.”

With no grading day, the first round of the 10-week competition will be on July 25.

“We’re going straight in to competition … so each game counts,” she said.

There are some changes in the premier ranks – Kurow is missing, Maheno has entered two teams and, for the first time in North Otago Netball’s history, a men’s team will play alongside the women’s teams.

Each week, a premier women’s team will play the men’s team at 3pm, in addition to their regular competition game.

There had been “a lot” of interest from male players over the past year and this season would be a trial, Macdonald said.

“They’ll have an opportunity to have a game of netball every Saturday through our 10 weeks , if they can field a team,” she said.

“We just want to have an introduction for men being involved in netball and, hopefully, it’s a foot in the door to lead to something bigger and better.

“It’s exciting that we’ve had the interest that we’ve had and we really want them to be a part of netball, and have more people playing at the end of the day.”

Everyone was looking forward to the season getting under way and North Otago Netball had also decided to waive its fees this year so playing would not become a financial decision for families, she said.

“We’re really focused on everyone really enjoying their netball this year and being able to play netball,” she said.

Macdonald hoped there could be some form of competition for the Hanan Shield, involving North Otago and Mid and South Canterbury.

“We’re working with Ashburton and Timaru to hopefully get the seniors and under-18s game [played] later in the year,” she said.