Updated: Feb 13
AMMNA today concluded its review of our championships, triggered by the sudden border closures last weekend and the current clusters impacting many states. All advice lead to the decision to cancel the 2021 Championships effective immediately.
The decision follows and aligns to the announcement of the national netball body, Netball Australia, who were forced to cancel their equivalent championships to be held at the same time. In addition, Basketball Australia cancelled their major equivalent tournament in recent days also.
“Other major sporting bodies running pathway championships found themselves in the same boat and reached the same decision as us. Put simply, there were really no alternate advice to any of us to forge ahead in different formats, so the decision was made for us. Pro-leagues such as AFL, NRL and Suncorp have access to financial resources and contingencies that our pathway tournaments simply don’t. Some have chartered flights, special exemptions and fully funded hub environments to plan with. Without these resources a tournament was not possible”, said AMMNA president Andrew Simons.
AMMNA used a similar decision making process to that which was used to postpone the same tournament due at Easter. It was led first and foremost by member preference (ie do states still want to send their players / can they), and supplemented by government, health and sporting authorities advice.
“At Easter we had advice multiple weeks prior to the event that lead to the initial postponement and a majority member vote supported this. This decision ended up being the right one as come Easter, we had varied restrictions imposed by governments which would have impacted Queensland, Victoria, WA and NSW. Unfortunately this time around we didn’t have weeks of notice, and the happenings of last week really forced the hand of states who were told they could not enter SA with under a weeks notice.” President Andrew Simons said.
The cancellation leaves participants without any national programming for the second year running, leaving many sporting bodies asking when they will be free of COViD related risks that led to this outcome.
“The strong advice we have is that sustained vaccination levels will be the lead response strategy of state governments to control COVID, so we are unlikely to see this type of activity in 2022 when Australia’s vaccination levels are tipped to reach over the required 80%. We may still have CovidSafe tournament obligations for some years yet, but we are confident lockdowns and border closures will be scrapped once a majority of Australians are vaccinated, particularly vulnerable Australians”, Simons said.
AMMNA now turn their attention to 2022 in Adelaide and building the best tournament for our participants to return to.
“There are so many people to empathise with after being hit with the same devastating outcome two years in a row. Our players and coaches who prepare week in week out. Our umpires and officials who prepare for months on end. And perhaps none more so than our administrators who have a full time job in organising squads and tournaments not once but three times in the last two years. Our heart goes out to everyone, and our attention turns to making 2022 our best work yet to celebrate our return to national competition” Simons said.
Asked about the financial impact of the cancellation, AMMNA confirmed member states and the national body had conducted a thorough analysis to ensure all bodies are sustainable following this second year of disruption.
“The affiliated bodies have done a massive amount of work in negotiating refunds or deferrals on accommodation and flights, hence why we needed to make a fast decision this week to allow them to leverage the cancellation to secure these. That being said, all bodies have reported some losses from sunk cost activities and items such as facilities, logistics and merchandise. This risk of financial loss was known and accepted by members when the postponement decision was made, and had been planned around to ensure all remain liquid and financial. Members will liaise with their players to discuss credits, refunds and sunk cost policies once supplier contact is finalised, so bare with your administrators who have a mountain of work to do.” Simons said.
AMMNA also plan to use this off season to return attention to the State of the Game partnership with Netball Australia to create the future of our sport and new program opportunities. The report is already generating new momentum with member states partnering with their state affiliated women’s bodies in new and expanded ways.
“We would like to thank member states for the incredible work they have been doing in growing the existing pathway with new and expanded state-based programming to keep our participants involved as we navigate through the pandemic and in the absence of national programming. We are seeing unprecedented focus on the men’s and mixed game, and will support these nationals strategies to be announced over coming months. The future is looking very bright” Simons said.
AMMNA is aware some member states will attempt to organise satellite events, similar to the Qld / NSW State of Origin last month, when and where border crossing permits it and where player safety can be more assured. AMMNA will assist and promote such events in any way possible.