Hoops ahead of pack in its return to play

Club basketball and football will be among the first sports to resume in the city post-Covid-19 restrictions.

The Government will lift numbers permitted at gatherings from 10 to 100 on Friday which means it will be possible for sports teams to train and for tournaments to get under way.

Basketball is ahead of the pack. The men’s A grade competition has been tentatively booked in for June 13, while the women’s A-grade will be delayed until July 7 when the students have returned from the break between semesters. The B grade is scheduled to start at the later date of July 11.

Basketball Otago games development manager Greg Brockbank said the plan was to play a full season in the men’s A grade. All six teams would play each other three times before contesting the playoffs.

The women’s A grade would need to be shortened, however. The six teams usually played two full rounds and the playoff series. Brockbank said perhaps half a round would need to be trimmed from the schedule.

Football South chief executive Chris Wright said the organisation was looking at a start date of June 20, although the sport might get under way a week earlier in Central Otago and possibly Invercargill as well.

‘‘In some cases, the leagues can go ahead as they were just because we can still fit two rounds in,’’ Wright said.

‘‘But some competitions will have a slightly shorter format. They might be one and a-half rounds instead of two, or two and a-half instead of three, so we are just working through all the draws at the moment.

‘‘In general, everything will pretty much finish by the end of September.’’

The premier men’s grade is expected to be pruned a bit but Wright said it would still be ‘‘a reasonable-length competition which will have a bit of a buzz about it’’.

Wright said it was a relief the season could get under way. Like many sporting organisations, the restrictions had had a big impact on its income.

Staff had been working reduced hours ‘‘and we’ve lost a couple of people but in general we’ve managed to keep everyone on board and with the season starting we can get our books looking a bit better again’’.

‘‘I think the majority of our clubs have been OK. We’ve been working very closely with them and helping them out with any support opportunities that have arisen.’’


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