• Patrick McBride

Sport returns on the Coast

Sport on the West Coast is set for a 'return to play' as our communities move into Level 2.

Cobden and Star junior netball players.

Before trainings and games can start, all sports face a challenge to ensure protocols are in place around Contact Tracing, Hygiene, Health and Safety and Physical Distancing.

There remains a limit on gatherings of over 10 people, which in the sporting context must include players, coaches, officials and spectators - which will limit team sports.

A lead in phase is important for all sports, as plans are developed and introduced to ensure health and safety alongside wellbeing.

The communication from National Sporting Organisations has been very supportive, and sports are feeling well informed as the situation evolves and decisions are made. It is crucial that clubs, schools and coaches involved in sport follow the guidelines from each National Sporting Organisation, as these are developed with safety and best practice in mind.

Expect changes to the traditional way that sports have delivered, as nearly all representative formats have been cancelled for Winter 2020, with sports looking to focus on re-establishing grassroots competition.

The return of golf has been a good example of how sports are adapting to the situation with no shared spaces, effective distancing and removal of flags to avoid contact.

Another challenge moving forward is the loss of Gaming Trust funding that many Coast sports rely on, with applications covering many costs that enable player subs to remain affordable. Along with the loss of supermarket raffle tables and fundraisers like sausage sizzles, we can expect many clubs to face hardship.

Sport Canterbury West Coast Regional Office Manager Jack O’Connor has been communicating with sports to identify risks and challenges they are facing.

“In some ways being predominantly volunteer based has meant our local sports haven’t had the employment costs and issues faced around the rest of New Zealand sports. This has allowed winter codes to just delay the start of their season and wait for the okay to re-start,” he said. 

Regional Sporting Organisations and Clubs have been offered access to the Sport NZ Community Resilience Fund to cover fixed costs, including the likes of rent, power, insurance and facility hire. Sport Canterbury will be administering this fund for the Canterbury West Coast region.

On the recreational side, it is encouraging to see a huge increase in runners and walkers around the streets and now with access to trails and beaches. This is set to increase providing physical distancing and hygiene is maintained. Gyms and swimming pools can re-open under level two, but the public will see changes.