Netball NSW is confident spectators will be allowed to enter the PCYC

YOUNG GUN: Orange City's Milly Wilcox will likely be able to play in front of spectators during this winter's ONA season. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
YOUNG GUN: Orange City's Milly Wilcox will likely be able to play in front of spectators during this winter's ONA season. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Fears supporters won't be able to watch from the grandstands when this year's Orange Netball Association competition kicks off were put to bed on Friday when Netball NSW confirmed fans would be allowed inside indoor venues, provided they adhere to the one-person per four square metres rule.

Most four-court facilities are roughly 2000 square metres, meaning around 500 people will be allowed inside Orange's PCYC complex, including the 64 people that are on-court when four games are running simultaneously.

Netball NSW Executive General Manager of Community and Pathways Darren Simpson said these numbers will be at the discretion of each club's manager, though, and that everyone in attendance must strictly adhere to social distancing rules when competitions kick-off on July 18.

"The number of people allowed inside a facility will be dependent on the size of the venue," Simpson said.

"Most four-court venues will be allowed to have roughly 500 people inside so we're not going to tell people they can't watch netball this season."

While the looming July 1 announcement isn't expected to outlaw supporters, Simpson suggested it might be a smart decision for district associations to dial back the amount of visitors in 2020.

"It's probably smart to not bring the extended family along to netball this season," he said.

"There's also expected to be a limit on how many people sit in the one grandstand and there will be a required gap between each spectator. It's going to be a common sense approach."

This season has been a difficult one for sport's governing bodies, in just about every code, and Simpson said it's been made more challenging by the lack of directive from the state government.

"Our biggest frustration is the government not providing us with clarity of what the rules are going to look like," he said.

"We never get anything in advance... it always comes on the day. It's like someone giving you a football and telling you to kick a goal without any goal posts.

"They say community sport can start but don't give us the final pieces of information. We're hoping that this one person per four-square metre rule will make netball look somewhat normal."

Orange Netball Association president Jane Dennis is playing the waiting game too.

"We'll have some restrictions this season but we're not sure exactly what they'll be yet," Dennis said.

"I suppose we're relying on the final decisions around that. I think now it's less about the number of people but more about the space.

"We're trying to encourage one spectator per player as opposed to a whole family coming."

With competitions and teams across the region dropping like flies, Dennis is proud of prospective ONA players, praising the players for their high level of enthusiasm despite a difficult start to the year.

"We haven't had a drop off in interested," she said.

"Members and players are excited to come back. We're really excited as a committee to offer the sport.

"We're going to have to manage restrictions and keep everyone safe. We're slightly nervous about all the rule changes."

This story Fans will be back: Netball NSW optimistic about spectators first appeared on Central Western Daily.