The Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Competition has been postponed from its proposed April start date.
It’s a massive blow for the competition which has already been cancelled once, last year.
The announcement was made via a statement on the AMMNA website.
Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association president Andrew Simons said the decision came after months of planning and polling of member states, and in turn states polling their members.
“What we’d found with the recent scares and the consequential border restrictions and quarantine changes, a majority of states all felt that it was too unsafe from a health risk, a quarantine risk and a financial risk and it meant that they wouldn’t be able to attend nationals,” he said.
“One of the documents we’ve made as part of our post-contingency planning, was what we could do if states couldn’t travel.
“It said in that contingency document that if four or more states couldn’t attend then it really wouldn’t be a national competition and we would postpone.
“So with all that information, the AMMNA executives met, and they voted, in conjunction with our members, to follow the contingency document and postpone nationals.”
The president of the Queensland Men’s and Mixed Netball Association, Steven Curr, also said the decision was disappointing, but understandable.
“We’d hoped that they would proceed,” he said.
“We’re not totally caught off guard by this decision, given the circumstances that all states are in.
“Our position is quite different to everybody else’s, so [we’re] disappointed, but [we’re] also understanding the reality of the complexity of all that it takes to run that tournament, and the risks that are involved as well.”
The big question now turns to when the championships will go ahead.
Symons said the unpredictability of the second half of the year makes it hard to lock in a date.
“They [the states] need to be polling their playing groups to find out when is another suitable time for the competition to go ahead,” he said.
“We hope it’ll be nationals as we would have planned to have in April, but we need to be able to see what the flexibility is, as the second half of the year does present challenges, like exam times and exam periods.
“Our juniors may need to have a separate tournament to enable that to be allowed to happen. We may be forced into a conference style competition.
“It’s all well to set a date, but we’re working with another presidents meeting in the coming weeks, to make sure we can find a mutually acceptable date rather than having to set a new date that none of the states can actually attend.
“We certainly will be setting a date or we may be setting multiple dates.
“We just need to see what we are able to do safely, particularly as the vaccination program rolls out and what financial state the states are in after this second postponement.”
The ramifications of another postponement are not lost on Simons.
“Without it [the championships] we have no real national product.
“Nationals is a major selection piece for the international teams, and it’s something for our state members to work towards.
“But being a fledgling sport, and competing with a lot of other sports for young athletic men and women, we may experience a fallout of a loss of participation, which we are going to have to deal with.”
Curr also said there are ramifications that are a concern at state level.
“From our members point of view, this is the second time the championships have been cancelled/postponed so there is potential ramifications for future memberships, around people being disappointed, understandably,” he said.
“We’re a non-profit organisation that relies on members to pay money and fundraising because we don’t have massive revenue streams coming in.
“So financially that’s a bit of a difficult position for us to be in.”
The correspondence between the state bodies and AMMNA has been extremely important in this difficult period.
Simons said that they have been warmed by the response they have received from the states.
“Whilst we’ve still got planning to be done with what we are going to do next and what the states can engage in, the majority of the states have been largely supportive of the option that has been chosen,” he said.
But Curr cited a minor issue with their correspondence.
“Look it definitely could’ve been better, but we understand that these things are complicated to manage,” he said.
“They [AMMNA] were really good at explaining that we needed a deadline around making the decision of when we’ll go forward, because every month the situation regarding COVID-19 seemed to change.
“[But] I think one of the challenges was when the decision [to postpone] was made by AMMNA, that decision had trickled out to our members before we were officially informed.
“Expectations have been met around deadlines, but it’s a little bit disappointing that it [the announcement] leaked out of the committee because it caught us off guard.”
Curr is still hopeful of a Queensland team participating, despite uncertainty over when that will occur.
“We want our squad at that event,” he said.
“But given it’s an unusual situation, we’ve never had nationals at another time of year, [so] we’re uncertain if our members can commit to a new date.
“We’ve had some constructive conversations with AMMNA about what that [the new date] is, and they don’t know either because of the circumstances.
“To be able to field a team at another date is an ideal position, but it is unclear if that will be the case.”
Simons doesn’t want to have the championships be affected in any way, or have anyone miss out on competing.
“AMMNA’s aim for all age groups from all states is to be able to play some form of interstate competition,” he said.
“We hope we can achieve that in the second half of this year, a full national competition.”