New restrictions make matchplay unlikely in 2020 for netball club

PUBLISHED: 17:33 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 25 September 2020

Norfolk United Netball Club Premier team in action. Picture: Jonathan Webb.

Norfolk United Netball Club Premier team in action. Picture: Jonathan Webb.


Officials at the biggest netball club in the county are awaiting further guidance as they seek clarity on a return to the court for competitive matches.

Norfolk United Netball Club in action. Picture: Jonathan WebbNorfolk United Netball Club in action. Picture: Jonathan Webb

Norfolk United Netball Club feature more than 40 teams playing in Norwich, Lowestoft, North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth along with junior leagues and academy squads competing regionally.

With the government announcing further national measures on Tuesday to address the rising cases of coronavirus in England, prime minister Boris Johnson outlined new restrictions that included a ban on certain indoor sports activities.

This means that indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six.

After the announcement, England Netball – the national governing body of England’s biggest female team sport – tweeted: “We are continuing to follow the Government updates being issued today in relation to changes in COVID-19 restrictions.

“We will update the Netball family on what this means for our sport as soon as we know more.”

It comes as the England Netball roadmap for a return of community netball was due to reach a crucial phase.

From September 26 the roadmap was set to reach ‘competition modified rules’ at stage 4a – a milestone that enables increased numbers of athletes per session and potentially a maximum of 30 players per court.

But now this looks set to be put on hold.

For Norfolk United Netball Club (NUNC) chairman James Bowman, the latest announcements has put hold to the club’s “best laid plans” as it began scheduling indoor competitive matches for all levels and ages.

The main NUNC Prem squad plays in the national Premier League 3, with home matches at Sportspark (UEA), and Mr Bowman said over the summer the club introduced a phased return to court and a modified gameplay.

Athletes participated in track and trace, and equipment was sanitised during breaks held every 15 minutes.

He said: “Our girls were relishing the chance to play the sport they love.

“The latest government announcement, limiting indoor sports to a maximum of six people, has put hold to our best laid plans.

“We await the next actions from England Netball, but will continue to aid player development with outdoor activity and virtual opportunities.

“The tightening of restrictions sees a competitive return to action an unlikely possibility in 2020.

“Our wonderful athletes, coaches, umpires, volunteers and supportive families will continue to adapt to our safety procedures and look after the health of themselves and others.”

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