New Covid-19 restrictions have forced all the Eastern Cape districts to withdraw from the Spar National Netball Championships that start in a bio-bubble at Bela-Bela in Limpopo on Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced tougher Covid-19 restrictions for the Eastern Cape a few days ago and they include a 10pm to 4am curfew‚ curb on the sale of alcohol from Monday to Thursday and reduced numbers for gatherings.
Netball South Africa (NSA) president Cecilia Molokwane said on Sunday the Eastern Cape and some Western Cape districts will not be playing in the championships as they come from areas that have high Covid-19 cases.
“Districts that I am definitely sure are not coming are from the Eastern Cape because their local government called off all travelling‚” said Molokwane.
“We all know that we had a family meeting with president Ramaphosa last week where Eastern Cape was declared as a Covid-19 hotspot‚ and we got the email [on Saturday] that they are not coming at all.
“They are taking all the necessary precautions but the players are disappointed because they were looking forward to coming here and playing in the championships.
“There are some Western Cape teams that are here but it is not all of them. It depends on where the hotsports are because it is not everywhere. If Eastern Cape and some parts of Western Cape are not coming‚ we know the reasons and they wanted to be here.”
Molokwane admitted that the absence of some of districts has affected their planning and scheduling‚ but they will be ready with a new fixture list before the start of play on Monday.
“Those districts being here pose a big but welcome challenge for us‚ it forces us to think outside the box. I am looking at this box all the time and I am not finding it.
“But it means that we have to ask ourselves what must we do?
“Remember‚ we were dealing with 180 players of the Telkom Netball League (TNL) but we are dealing with more players here in Bela-Bela.
“It needs different planning and different logistics‚ and it is very demanding. But the NSA team is working around the clock and finalising the details. We are hoping that we will not have any Covid-19 cases and the tournament goes ahead as planned.”
Captain of Tshwane Marlize de Bruin said they are ready to defend their title.
“We are prepared‚ we trained very well after TNL where we conducted our sessions outside in the heat‚” she said.
“The heat is going to be a challenge for everyone because we are not used to playing outside. But we as Tshwane have prepared ourselves mentally and physically to cope with the conditions.”
Source: ARENA Holdings.