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Among a host of volunteers tasked with implementing and enforcing Covid-19 restrictions at her beloved rugby league club, Kakoi was relieved the season ended last weekend, where the Keas won their fifth straight men’s premier title at Nga Puna Wai.
“It’s been a tough year for every club . . . making sure we had the volunteer power to keep up with everything we needed to,” Kokai said.
“Even though it’s been a shorter season . . . over that Covid period it was just a really long season.”
The Keas had about 60 volunteers, whose job description changed once the pandemic hit.
Suddenly they had to oversee sanitisation practices, contact tracing and the trickiest task of all – crowd control at Linwood Park for junior and senior grades.
“We had to be constantly on the ball counting numbers. Linwood Park was limited to a maximum of 100 people but multiple entrances made it hard to manage,” said Kakoi, who is also president of the Keas.
Not all spectators were aware of the restrictions, or willing to comply, when the numbers were capped. Then when spectators were barred, volunteers faced a bigger backlash.
“We were asking people to leave and obviously we were being verbally abused and all that kind of thing. They didn’t understand why they couldn’t just come to the ground and watch a game in a public space,” she said.
“I pretty much had to put big girl pants on most of the time go up to people and say ‘keep walking, ride your bike that way, walk your dog that way’. People were pretty innovative with how they were going to get to the park to watch the game.”