Dear Members of Basketball New South Wales

For approximately five months our lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Personal and business activities have been disrupted to varying degrees and our sport has not been spared.

So far we have navigated the ups and downs of this event, adjusting our personal lives, businesses and sporting activities based upon the ever-changing amount of virus in the community and the guidance or health orders set by the government.  In terms of Basketball, I believe our community has responded well to this guidance and the local challenges this has presented.

Looking back, we seem to have travelled through three phases. The initial breakout of the virus and clampdowns that occurred, the quieter time when the virus was in retreat and some level of normality returned…and now, when the government, business and individuals are fine-tuning responses and actions. In the last week, we have seen one such change implemented by the government.

To summarise – initially the Department of Education issued guidance sport focussed advisory message to the Education sector only, simplistically calling for the suspension of travel for the purpose of sport (and related activities).  This was quickly followed by a very similar message to all sporting codes in general, with substantially the same message. This second announcement led to a significant amount of communications and meetings amongst the sporting sports with Sport New South Wales, NSW Office of Sport, Government representatives and between the leaders of each code in NSW.  Due to the nature of the announcement and the impact this would have on all codes, a conference call was held with the codes and representative bodies for the purpose of clarifying the directive.  It needs to be said here, that during that call, there was no opportunity to openly discuss the announcement with the government.

More fully – on Monday night, the NSW Government’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant and the Department of Health issued further recommendations relating to community sport. Upon receiving the latest recommendations, we immediately contacted Sport NSW, Office of Sport and the other sports in NSW to ensure our interpretation of the announcement was in line with theirs. It was.

Once we had done this, we began the detailed assessment of the impact of this announcement on:

  • How this applied to local operations of Associations
  • Inflight activities run by Basketball New South Wales
  • Mid-term activities that had not yet started
  • Any nuances or differences in how the announcement affected activities in regional areas, metro areas and activities that straddled both

As I type this, we are still working through these and how we can balance the competing issues of:

  • The physical health and wellbeing of the community
  • The physical and mental impacts of reducing sporting activities – especially in regional communities
  • The business impact on Associations (including BNSW) where budgets are already under stress

The upshot of all the above is the following:

Spalding Country Challenges – they were all cancelled due to the travel and overnight accommodation, which breaches the new health recommendations if they were to continue.

My team is now working on new activities to be put in their place.  These events will be run in smaller regions were participants can travel to and from home in one day and not be required to stay overnight.

We will continue to meet with our country associations and hope to make further announcements in the coming weeks.

Spalding Metro Junior League – played in a home and away format.  To ensure this competition can continue for the next 6 weeks and to meet the new recommendations suggested by NSW Health, we are splitting Sydney into subregions and the teams will only play teams in their subregion during this period to minimise travel across Sydney.

The Spalding Metro Junior League will be extended to cater for extra rounds outside the hubs /sub-regions after the initial 6 weeks. 

Spalding Waratah League – this is the highest level of the league for seniors and therefore fits in the category of the semi-professional league. We are running with very strict biosafety and we also restricting spectators to 1 per participant and all games being live-streamed.

Canberra withdrew 3 weeks ago based on the new border restrictions in ACT and the players and coaches by their employers. Both Maitland and Newcastle made the decision to withdraw due to further restrictions put in place by Hunter Health, and we respect their decisions and fully understand the difficulty and pressure they were under in making these decisions.

We have 4 more rounds and finals to remaining in the 2020 season.

Development Programs and High-Performance Activities – these activities are currently set to amber, again, my team will continue to assess the situation and we will advise our associations if any further changes are to occur.

More generally, since mid-March, when we all felt the impact of the pandemic, we were forced to stop all basketball in NSW, from that day onwards our attention, focus and commitment has always been to work with the Federal Government, NSW State Government and Basketball Australia and develop a plan for getting basketball back to being played whilst staying safe against the coronavirus.

BNSW implemented its own crisis management plan, we have and continue to meet regularly with our associations on multiple fronts, we are very appreciative of their support, feedback and willingness to work together as we all navigate our way through the pandemic. 

Following a decision from the NSW Government to allow sport to resume from July 1, we were able to implement a ‘return for basketball in NSW plan’, for our competitions that meant we had to adjust fixtures for some leagues and create new competitions for our country associations to participate in, in place of the Spalding Waratah Country Junior Leagues (EJL, NJL, WJL & SJL). The reason we had to make a hard decision to cancel the Spalding Waratah Country Leagues was due to the timing of the individual leagues and when we could possibly re-start them safely with the same competition format remaining, which unfortunately was not achievable. In their place, the Spalding Country Challenges was created.

We also had to make a hard call on our State’s participation in the proposed calendar-adjusted Australian Junior Championships for 2020, and we decided that as a State that the proposed revised dates were not going to work for NSW, we wouldn’t be able to provide our teams and participants enough time to prepare and plan. Subsequently, the Australian U16, U18 Junior Championships and U14 Club Championships for 2020 have all been cancelled.

We know that these decisions made meant that members from our community would be disappointed, we are equally disappointed, but the pandemic is taking us into a new way of life. 

We, thank and acknowledge the work that our many association administrators, volunteers, parents and players have all done to contribute to our messaging around the need for social distancing and other hygiene practices, and for following our guidelines and implementing the COVID Safety Plans in every stadium around the state with your local councils and other partners.  We know it hasn’t been easy but your efforts are appreciated!

Lastly, I would personally like to thank our basketball community for your continued support and understanding as we navigate our way through these challenges, we have transitioned into a world of biosafety and managing expectations of all our stakeholders’ children, parents and our associations and their staff and volunteers. 

We are on this path and journey together and every day is new and different and will continue to be so until we have a vaccine.

Warm Regards,

Maria