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21 October 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Wimmera indoor sport enthusiasts are beginning to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ following an easing of COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria.
State premier Daniel Andrews’ Sunday announcement included conditions for junior indoor sport to resume from November 1.
It will be limited to non-contact activities, such as dance classes and gymnastics.
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All activities will be capped at 20 people, who must be distanced 1.5 metres from others.
Spectators will be limited to one parent or guardian if a child requires supervision.
Indoor pools can also reopen to up to 20 people at a time, and one-on-one hydrotherapy sessions are allowed indoors, when accompanied by a health professional.
The announcement came as a major relief for Natimuk and District Gymnastic Club head coach Lynette Morrow.
Her gymnastic classes were able to restart earlier this month, but groups were capped at a maximum of 10 students outdoors.
Due to restrictions on indoor sport at the time, the committee was forced to move equipment outside to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Mrs Morrow said students could return to inside classes from November 1, which would allow her to run more frequent lessons to cater for the more than 300 students across the Wimmera.
“I’ll be able to fit 40 people, because I’ll do a few sessions a night,” she said.
“When we were outside, we were limited by daylight hours. Now, we’ll do the best we can to offer classes to as many students as we can.”
Mrs Morrow said the lift to restrictions was a positive step forward for the club.
“This still limits us, but it is better than what we’ve had,” she said.
“Being able to cater for more gymnastics is great and being able to go back inside means we don’t have to battle the weather.”
Mrs Morrow said students had worked ‘tirelessly’ to maintain pre-COVID fitness levels.
She said the timing of reopening the gym was crucial to students’ development.
“It’s extremely important, especially for their mental health. A lot of sport provides kids with stability and they can achieve that through sport,” she said.
“That allows them to be more confident in themselves.”
While gymnastics and other non-contact sport can go ahead for juniors, there is still uncertainty surrounding when senior-level indoor sport can restart.
Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly executive officer David Berry said the downward trend in COVID-19 indicated potential for a brighter end to 2020 for senior sport.
However, he said the fate of senior competitions in 2020 would be dependent on further lifting of restrictions.
“It depends on how the sports are structured. For sports such as basketball that normally run competition post-Christmas, there might be an opportunity for them to run a modified competition into the new year,” he said.
“For those that only run up until Christmas, there might be a limited opportunity to run without finals or grand finals and just the opportunity to let people play and connect with their peers.”
Mr Berry said sport clubs would have to adapt as COVID-19 restrictions changed.
“For contact sport, if the downward trend continues, then there might be some light at the end of the tunnel to start something like what we’ve been doing with the juniors,” he said.
“For clubs that are prepared to try something outside the square, there’s an opportunity there.”
Mr Berry, who is also Volleyball Horsham president, said the club was awaiting confirmation from the Catholic Education Department to use St Brigid’s College stadium.
He said the club planned to start under-15 and under-17 competitions from November 2.
“We’re deemed as a non-contact sport and we’re just waiting for confirmation as to whether we can use the stadium for our competition,” he said.
The entire October 21, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!