Community sport bodies and a host of athletes across Canberra would be thrilled to have some certainty around the resumption of training and competition following the ACT Government’s announcement last week.
As part of Stage 2.2 of the ACT Government easing restrictions, contact sports, including martial arts, will be able to recommence full-contact training from noon 19 June to start their transition back to competitions from 10 July.
Non-contact sports, such as athletics and swimming, will be able to resume competition play where it wasn’t already allowed from 19 June.
Some non-contact community sports, like tennis and golf, have already been able to run competitions in Canberra since moving into Stage 1.2 back on 16 May.
Full contact sport is defined as any sport that allows non-incidental contact within its code. For example, netball rules do not allow for contact other than incidental contact, so it is a non-contact sport, whereas basketball and rugby league do allow for contact, so it is a full contact sport.
From 19 June, up to 100 people, indoors or outdoors, with one person per four square metres, can participate in either matches or training depending on the sport.
Crowds will also be capped at 100 spectators.
Communal facilities such as change rooms and canteens can now also reopen, provided food service requirements are met, along with general hygiene and physical distancing.
“We understand many of these larger sports have been planning for recommencement of sport from mid-July, and we have contacted a number of those sports to make sure our announcement today won’t cause confusion for their respective members,” ACT Minister for Sport Yvette Berry said.
Following the announcement, a number of community contact sport competitions based in the Canberra region signalled their intentions to recommence play the weekend of 17-19 July.
The Canberra Region Rugby League (CRRL) announced a return to full-contact training from midday Friday 19 June for ACT-based clubs, while they expect games to kick off on the weekend of 17-19 July.
The NSW restrictions remain at training groups of 20 from 13 June, with a full return to contact from 1 July.
Four of the nine clubs competing in the CRRL Canberra Raiders Cup are based in NSW, while seven NSW-based clubs compete in the local junior competition.
Practice games between one team will also be allowed at training and teams will need to record attendance of all participants.
In a community update published on their website on 12 July, ACT NSW/AFL acting CEO Tiffany Robertson said their clubs will also resume contact training and match preparation from 19 June, before competition starts up for all ages on the weekend of 17-19 July.
“Today’s announcement enables AFL NSW/ACT to implement a staged and planned approach to returning to competition play for AFL Canberra aligned to cross-border announcements made by the NSW Government earlier this week,” Ms Robertson said.
Last week, Capital Football laid out a two-stage plan for resumption in the lead-up to the ACT Government’s announcement.
The first stage will see ‘MiniRoos’ U5-U9 matches recommence in the ACT once the Territory moves to Stage 2.2 of Canberra’s Recovery Plan, which will take effect from midday 19 June.
In NSW, MiniRoos U5-U9 matches will commence 1 July in line with easing of restrictions by the NSW Government.
In the second stage, Capital Football will kick off all other competitions the weekend of Saturday 18 July; which comprises the National Premier Leagues for women and girls, National Premier Leagues for men and boys, Senior Leagues, Junior Leagues and MiniRoos U10 and U11 age grades.
Capital Football CEO Phil Brown said he was looking forward to the return of all competitions.
“To ensure our return to football is safe, Capital Football will continue working with both the ACT and NSW governments to understand any conditions to the easing of restrictions and support our clubs in meeting those conditions,” he said.
While their status as a non-contact sport would allow Netball ACT to recommence competition from midday 19 June, they intend to resume in July with different plans around each level of competition.
Hockey ACT, another non-contact sport, announced their winter outdoor competition will return mid-July. The Senior Competition will commence 10 July with the Junior Competition and Junior Participation Programs commencing 23 July in line with the resumption of school Term 3.
Training for all Hockey ACT competition teams commenced earlier this month.
Hockey ACT CEO Mr Rob Sheekey said he’s relieved and excited for competition to begin.
“There are so many positives of community sport and we are really pleased to be able to offer a relatively full hockey season. A month ago that seemed highly unlikely, so we are very grateful,” he said.
Games will be played later into the year into the warmer spring months, and the inclusion of mid-week games to make up for lost rounds.
In addition to the regular competitions available, Hockey ACT is also trialling a shortened Winter Social Season to provide the opportunity to play for those members of the community who have suffered financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and may have been unable to afford the cost of a full regular season.