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Netball president Kimale Evans questions Return to Play guidelines

Concerns raised: the Government’s “Return to Play” guidance has been brought into question

Kimale Evans is concerned there are still too many unanswered questions regarding the Government’s “Return to Play” guidance initiative.

After an interruption to sporting activity since early December due to a surge of Covid-19 cases, Ernest Peets, the new Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, revealed a four-stage plan outlining how action on island can return, albeit with strict guidelines being observed.

As things stand, an easing of restrictions to permit gatherings to be increased from a maximum of ten to 25 has moved the plan to stage two, allowing teams to return to training with no contact and social distancing required.

However, it is the proposed next stage – “competitive training to prepare for competition” – which has raised concerns from some quarters, particularly the stated requirement of participants and officials needing a negative Covid-19 test no later than three days before training and repeated every 28 to 30 days.

“I commend the Government’s efforts to put the guidelines in place but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Evans, the Bermuda Netball Association president. “Things still feel like they are really up in the air and that’s for a lot of sports, just not netball.

“The real issues are when we move into stage three. As it is, it is too hard to easily understand how we realistically move forward into the different phases.

“Obviously, we want to adhere to the rules but there are just too many unanswered questions still. The main one is regarding the proposed Covid-19 testing of people ahead of returning to competitive training.

“How are people being tested and who does the testing? As an island, can we facilitate these extra tests being done for people to train for sport?

“The onus appears to be on the sporting bodies, and that gives me major concerns.”

As well as issues revolving around proposed testing, Evans is also uneasy with the lack of distinguishment between separate sports, with each having to follow the same guidelines whether they involve contact or not.

“Every sport seems to be treated the same as well which doesn’t make sense to me,” she added. “There’s big differences between athletics and swimming compared to rugby and football, the guidelines need to relate to individual sports.

“I don’t know who was consulted regarding the Return to Play guidelines because it seems a lot of sporting bodies are concerned and trying to understand them properly.

“We are waiting for a meeting with the relevant government bodies because these conversations need to be had.”

While the wait for those conversations to be had continue, Evans revealed the netball association is focusing on allowing clubs to get back to training if they choose to do so within stage two guidelines.

“Stage two gives us a chance to get back to a little bit of training,” she said. “There are obviously still restrictions in place and so we’ve allowed the individual clubs to make a decision as to whether they want to return to training.

“It’s a small step forward and more importantly gives us hope that we are moving in the right direction.

“People are really missing sport and not just for the fitness benefits. Sport plays a major role in young people’s development and there are so many benefits that go way beyond fitness.

“Netball is a huge sport for the island; we have more than 400 registered players and they are all missing out at the moment.”

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Published January 27, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2021 at 8:54 pm)

Netball president Kimale Evans questions Return to Play guidelines

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