T&T senior women’s team netballer Samantha Wallace says she is delighted with the news that the Australian Suncorp Super Netball League season will get going on August 1 with the league committed to completing a full 60-match season.
The season was due to start with the Wallace’s New South Wales Swifts, the defending champions and Sunshine Coast Lightning meeting on May 2 in a rematch of last year’s final. However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which took the world by storm in mid-March, the league was forced to postponed its start.
But, last Sunday in a media release, Suncorp Super Netball Chief Executive Officer Chris Symington confirmed that the season will get going on August 1.
While the fixture for the season is still being finalised, the confirmed season start date means teams have been given the green light to begin group training together, within the government guidelines in each state, from Monday.
The clubs have also agreed to training guidelines to ensure competitive balance, as well as the health and safety of all athletes and staff.
The release added: In addition, starting yesterday (June 1), players will continue to be paid in line with the current agreement of 12 hours per week, with full pre-season training currently earmarked for late June where athletes will return to their normal 23 hours of training a week.
Commenting on the announcement, the 26-year-old Toco-born Wallace who captured the “Most Valuable Player” Finals award after leading the Swifts past Lightning in the final in September, at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre said she was feeling extremely excited about the season kicking off.
Wallace, who ended the 2019 campaign with 648 goals from 695 attempts for the second spot behind Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler 709/753, said, “The late start means that the season will also have a later than usual finish but I’m just happy to actually get a season in after all the uncertainties due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
A winner of the “Player of the Year” in the English Vitality Netball Super League in 2016, Wallace, who has a three-year Suncorp League career tally of 1,580 goals from 1,739 attempts noted that her entire team was also anxiously looking forward to starting the defence of their title.
“My team-mates are thrilled and we just can’t wait to see each other this week back on the court in full gears rather than on zoom,” said Wallace who noted that while the season has been given the thumbs up, she was also hopeful of the restrictions placed on crowds will also be lifted by the time the matches get underway.
“As you know our crowd support is a big part of our game as they give us the added push when things get tough to get over the finish line, and not having them at the venue will be sad, so I’m hoping by the time we’re ready to play the restrictions will be lifted so we can have crowds at our games.”
Symington said the season start represents a significant step forward on the road to getting back on the court.
“We’re thrilled that a season start date has been locked away, now all our stakeholders have a date to work towards and fans can start to get excited for the start of the season. We are planning to play out a full home and away season, and we are confident that our start date gives us the best opportunity to achieve that,” he said.
“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed, those being the health and wellbeing of the community alongside the financial viability of our sport. There has been a collective commitment to those principles from the whole system including players, teams, partners and broadcasters and we will continue to take that approach as we look to get our season underway.”
Over in New Zealand, the T&T-based duo, Kalifa Mc Collin and Daystar Swift, will resume their ANZ Premiership season on June 19 after it was halted following one round of matches in March.