This weekend the National Rugby League resumed Round 3 of the 2020 competition following the COVID-19 lockdown. Players, coaches and staff officially returned to the field to give fans their weekend dose of Rugby League. The games were played in empty stadiums with cardboard cut-outs of fans; simulated crowd noises blaring from stadium PA systems; fireworks and of course commentary from the partner broadcasters. This was somewhat of different experience for the average punter. My beloved mighty Wests Tigers had a solid win over the Sharks 28-16 so as you can imagine, it was a great Saturday in the Zangari household!
While Rugby League fans were happy to have their favourite game back on their TV screens, other major codes are still waiting in the wings to give their fans a slice of the action they have been sorely missing during the lockdown. It seems the focus has been about the professionals with many grass roots sports waiting patiently for a plan to kick off.
Locally, football has started its training schedule this week with clubs implementing social distancing measures to protect players and coaches. There is talk of park football returning sometime around July - a long time to wait for eager sports men and women who are keen to get back on the field, but at least there is a strategic plan to move forward.
Unfortunately it's a different scenario for netball in NSW. My daughter, who plays in the local netball association, has received a copy of an open letter to the Premier from Netball NSW about a pathway back to sport. Netball has 115,000 participants across the state. For almost a century, the sport has provided women and girls a social outlet promoting wellbeing and teamwork. Players are keen to get back on the court and coaches and officials eager for guidance and a plan to move forward. In spite of this, there has been no word from the Government. It seems no one is assisting the sport that has given our nation so much success.
As a proud netball Dad, I stand with Netball NSW and call on the Government to announce a commencement date for this sport. Our netballers deserve to have the same level of access to their beloved sport just like other codes that have at least made some progress into the 2020 season.