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01 July 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Teams of boys can take to the court alongside girls for the first time in Horsham City Netball Association history thanks to a change in policy.
Association president Cathie Weidemann said she was thrilled to throw open the doors for young males, with preparations for the 2020 season well underway.
Teams have two weeks to register for the junior season, which starts on July 24.
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“We have already had interest from a few boys who are keen to take part, which is great,” Mrs Weidemann said.
“We have had a few boys play before in a mixed netball competition, but there are no restrictions on the number of boys in a team now. Teams can be mixed, or solely male or female.
“Netball Victoria guidelines have changed and they have altered their diversity and inclusion policy.
“Because we run a junior competition, we want to be as inclusive as possible and welcome as many kids who want to play.”
The season will run on Friday afternoons and include 13 and under and 11 and under fixtures, along with a nine-and-under modified ‘Go’ competition.
Mrs Weidemann said netballers from across the Wimmera-southern Mallee were keen to participate.
“I’ve had interest from players from Harrow-Balmoral, Donald, Horsham Demons, Horsham Saints, Natimuk, Minyip-Murtoa, Pimpinio and Kalkee,” she said.
“A lot of those clubs play their own modified competitions through Wimmera and Horsham District leagues.”
Mrs Weidemann said association leaders had also called for expressions of interest for a Saturday competition, including 13 and under, 15 and under, 17 and under and open grades.
She said Horsham City could offer an alternative to the region’s premier competitions.
Wimmera Netball Association and Horsham District Football Netball League have called off their senior seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are exploring potential junior competitions.
Mrs Weidemann said she had been in discussions with AFL Wimmera Mallee leaders about potential opportunities.
“A lot of what happens obviously depends on COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.
“We have been through an extensive process with Netball Victoria and Horsham Rural City Council in relation to COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of players, volunteers and spectators.”
Mrs Weidemann said the Friday competition would not be open to the public, however there was an allowance for spectators.
“Each player can have a parent or guardian with them, and we also understand that sometimes siblings will have to come along too,” she said.
“We are going to set up zones for spectators, with a maximum of 10 people a zone. We have a big outdoor space, so we have the room.”
Mrs Weidemann said the Friday competition would run until September 18 and could accommodate 14 teams playing simultaneously, across seven courts.
“It’s pretty exciting that we can still go ahead,” she said.
“We’ve had lots of expressions of interest already, and now people can get their registrations in online via My Netball.
“We run a competition every year and we are lucky, because we don’t have to worry about court availability, so we can do up a draw relatively quickly.
“We can also help individual players who are looking for a team.”
Mrs Weidemann said any potential senior competition would have to comply with stricter COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s hard, because a lot of the netballers are also nurses and teachers and work in professions where they need to social distance,” she said.
“We’ve mostly been focusing on the junior competition.
“We’ve had a few seniors contact us, but we haven’t been overwhelmed.
“We are still happy to try to work something out for senior teams, so if people are interested, they should let us know.”
Mrs Weidemann said people could contact her for more information via phone on 0411 166 914, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging the Horsham City Netball Association Facebook page.
Teams must be entered by July 14 and people can visit vic.netball.com.au/mynetball to pay their registration for the 2020 season.
The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!