Netball NZ cancels domestic development league due to Covid-19 uncertainty

Netball New Zealand has announced this year’s domestic development league has been cancelled due to the country’s ongoing response to Covid-19.

Central Manawa celebrates winning the 2019 Beko Netball League. Source: Photosport

NZN confirmed in a statement this morning the 2020 Beko Netball League has been ruled out in part due to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in Auckland, which has seen the city put in a Level 3 lockdown over the last two weeks and moved the rest of the country back to Alert Level 2.

Auckland, Te Aroha and Wellington were set to host the competition, but the uncertainty over the length of lockdowns and changes to the requirements at each level means the call to cancel the 2020 league was made, NZN Head of Events Kate Agnew said.

“I feel for the teams and management who have prepared for essentially two versions of the Beko Netball League, and will not get to compete this season,” she said.

“But as Auckland teams have ceased training at Alert Level 3 and at Alert Level 2 in Auckland with it now being groups of 10 for gatherings we felt it was the right call to cancel the league.

“We are extremely disappointed for all of those involved as we have seen over the past four years the impact the Beko Netball League has for those athletes, coaches and officials striving to take their game further.”

The league, which is in its fifth season and has proven an important pathway for performance for both players and coaches, was set to start on 29 August under a condensed schedule with six teams competing over three weekends.

The league, which would’ve been in its fifth season had it started on August 29, sits directly below the ANZ Premiership and is viewed as a key stepping-stone to the elite game. 

Central Manawa is the three-time defending champions with Southern Blast the only other team to have won the league.