Relief for outdoor sports

OUTDOOR team sports will remain largely unaffected when the government’s latest round of social restrictions come into force on Friday – but there is further disappointment for Island netballers.

Springfield stadium football pitch                                                             Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29629713)
Springfield stadium football pitch Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29629713)

Jersey Football Association and Jersey Hockey Association officials breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when it was announced that formal outdoor sports events can continue to welcome 40 people, including spectators, despite a steep rise in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. However, formal indoor gatherings must now have no more than 20 people in attendance – a ruling which forces the Jersey Netball Association to reassess already-adjusted regulations for their Winter League at Les Ormes.

JFA chief executive David Kennedy contacted Island football clubs last night to remind them to continue adhering to the 40-person limit, which has been imposed since the 2020/21 league season began in September. Over 30 fixtures are set to take place at various venues around Jersey on Saturday and Sunday, at junior and senior level.

‘Due to the rise in infections we recognise the need for tougher measures,’ said Kennedy. ‘However, not reducing the number from 40 is a really positive message from government, who clearly recognise the positive impact sport can have on physical and mental wellbeing in the Island.

‘We all want to be at a place where there is little or no Covid in Jersey because it has already taken so much away from us – whether that is the Muratti, cup finals or end of season awards. We don’t want the possibility of that happening again.

‘Undoubtedly these tougher measures put the spotlight on sports providers and football will be no different. We have contacted all of our clubs to reinforce the need to follow the guidelines.

‘From the start we always said a successful season would be one where we get through it without disruption.’

JNA president Linda Andrews says the number of Winter League fixtures taking place at Les Ormes each night will have to be halved, alongside a reduction in the number of people assigned to each court. That figure currently stands at 25, including players, coaches and officials. The new restrictions follow a change of line-up for a number of teams last week due to Covid isolation requirements (see page 62).

Another of Jersey’s prime team sports, cricket, is unlikely to be significantly affected as the ongoing Indoor League at Fort Regent and St Michael’s is run on a six-a-side basis, while the Jersey Cricket Board has provisions to reduce the size of groups within their community programmes.

Jersey Sport – the independent body acting as a link between sports clubs and the government – released brief guidance yesterday which said they are continuing to ‘work very closely with Public Health and are already seeking clarity on several points.’

If they are within the 40 rule then outdoor gatherings which involve sports can still go ahead. Clearly we need to think about spectators … will that add to the 40. Transition within the spectator element of sport is well recognised, whether it’s outdoors or indoors. The 40 [person limit] will allow sports to continue but not in exactly the same fashion.

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