Netball Super League resumes after one-week postponement due to Covid-19

The first day of the Deloitte Netball Super League, at Our Tampines Hub, on Jan 15, 2022. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - The Netball Super League (NSL) will resume on Sunday (Feb 20) after a series of positive Covid-19 cases among those involved saw last week's round of matches postponed.

Netball Singapore (NS) chief executive Cyrus Medora told The Straits Times that the number of positive cases among the six teams and officials peaked at around 20 but only two have been reported this week.

Training resumed on Thursday and after seeking feedback from the players who said they felt a bit more fatigued, each of Sunday's matches will now have 12-minute quarters. The usual 15-minute quarters will be reinstated next week.

The Jan 29 fixture between defending champions Sneakers Stingrays and Swifts Barracudas, which had been postponed because a player contracted the virus, will also be played next week.

The NSL will now conclude on March 13, a week later than the original date.

Magic Marlins midfielder Tan Yi Jie, 22, welcomed the change in match duration this weekend and remains confident in the NSL's Covid-19 protocols.

She said: "It's a wise and sensible decision because I think it's a good way for the recovered players to ease into the full game. Even though they had a break, they couldn't exercise in that seven days and some might still feel the effects of the virus so they shouldn't be going too hard.

"We're now reaching the endemic stage so we just have to try our best to maintain our hygiene and safe distancing. It's inevitable that some players will contract the virus but we just have to make sure we can adapt.

"I'm glad there was that one-week break so everyone could recover and now that everyone has, I'm confident we'll get past this. That was like the storm before the rainbow and now we have a rainbow."

Her team, currently sixth in the table, will kick off the second round when they take on Mission Mannas at Our Tampines Hub. The Mannas won their previous meeting 53-31.

The other two matches on Sunday will see the Stingrays try to avenge their opening-day loss to Blaze Dolphins, while Fier Orcas will meet the Barracudas.

While Singapore's Covid-19 rules are set to be relaxed from Feb 25 with groups of 30 allowed to play sports without prior on-site testing, Medora said the league would stick to its current regimen to safeguard the players and personnel involved.

Players have to take at least two tests a week, including one before each match day. If anyone is identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case, they will not be able to play, even if they test negative.

Medora said: "The players have been very responsible and have stayed away from training even if they had the slightest cough or sore throat so I really commend them."

The league will also remain a closed-door event for now but all matches are streamed live on the NS Facebook page.

NS has also scrapped the preliminary final and the winners of both semi-finals will automatically reach the grand final.

In previous editions, the top two teams after two rounds would meet in one semi-final while the next two would contest the other.

The winner of the first semi-final reached the grand final automatically while the loser would meet the winner of the second semi-final in the preliminary final. The winner of the preliminary final then progressed to the grand final.

This year, the team that finishes top after two rounds will face the fourth-ranked team in the semi-finals, while the second and third placed teams will clash in the other game.

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