Wairarapa United could be playing by May 30. PHOTO/FILE

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Local sports can start training from today, but the 10-person gathering limit will apply to all community sports activity.

After Monday’s government announcement on the transition to Alert Level 2, Sport New Zealand confirmed on Wednesday that sports can train and play subject to the combined number of players, coaches and/or officials not exceeding 10 and appropriate physical distancing guidelines being observed.

“Where this is possible, we are encouraging sports and teams to take time to look at how they can operate effectively within the 10-person limit and adhere to public guidelines around hygiene, contact tracing, physical distancing and gatherings,” Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin said.

“For many sports, this is now in a ‘get ready’ phase where they will put in place what is needed to commence safely. As training numbers can increase sports will then enter a ‘prepare to play’ phase to get athletes ready to compete.

“We have worked closely with major winter codes around how and when they are best able to get their seasons under way, and what has come through clearly from those discussions is the importance of having an initial phase of preparation before play can commence.

“We anticipate it being possible for competitions to be able to commence from around May 30, subject to New Zealand’s continued containment of covid-19 and the advice of the Director-General of Health.

Some sports may choose to take longer to start competitions depending on their specific circumstances.”

The confirmation from Sport NZ could place extra pressure on Wairarapa United, who field four teams in Central and Capital Football leagues and a team in the local league, with indications their leagues could commence on May 30.

Chairwoman Wendy Turton said when training does get under way for Wairarapa United’s teams it may initially be at alternative venues to their home ground of Trust House Memorial Park.

“There has to be a deep cleanse of the artificial turf before we can get on there so it won’t be until after May 22,” Turton said.

Other codes may start their competitions later.

Wairarapa-Bush Rugby are considering a mid-June commencement, Hockey Wairarapa are looking at several options, while Netball Wairarapa are likely to start in school term three, after July 20.

The onus to monitor numbers at trainings and games will fall on the sports organisation or club.

Sport Wellington Wairarapa regional development manager Dayle Clarkson confirmed that it was made clear during an online meeting of the three Wairarapa councils, Wairarapa DHB, primary and secondary schools and regional sports organisations that it will be the sports body’s responsibility to implement the regulations around Alert Level 2.

There was some good news from Monday’s meeting though.

Masterton District Council’s manager community facilities and activities Andrea Jackson confirmed “the council has already approved 100 per rent relief for 12 months from March 26, 2020, without application, so codes can focus on standing up sport again”.

She said, “MDC is committed to working with Sport Wellington Wairarapa and the codes in whatever way we practically can, based on the guidance from Sport NZ”.