FINALLY: Netball is back after 126 days
ELEVEN clubs, six courts and 33 games with hundreds of players aged from nine to over 50 herald the return of netball in Lismore on Saturday.
After months of lockdown, from 8.45am players will swoop back on to the courts alongside Ballina Rd for the Lismore District Netball Association's delayed 2020 season.
Association spokeswoman Alana Turner said while teams were thrilled to be back and keen to enjoy the game they love so much, it's still going to be a very competitive season.
Daleys Netball Club secretary Kylie Davis, said their 13 squads had been keeping positive.
"During lockdown we asked all our members to film themselves in action, and we created a short video showing them receiving and passing a ball at home, on a horse, in the pool, hanging out of tree and passing it onto the next player.
"It was fun and showed our diversity of players on the Northern Rivers."
Although Daleys' Division 1 team won the 2019 grand final, Davis said no-one was quite sure what to expect this year.
"Age is no barrier to feeling thrilled about playing," she said.
"Every is a bit nervous but mostly very excieted."
Turner said 11 clubs along with the individual NetSetGo youngsters, "whom we consider to be a 12th club", will adhere to the strict pandemic guidelines from Netball NSW.
"The biggest hurdle is managing the expectations of players and supporters who are so enthusiastic and grateful to get back to our sport," she said.
"I know we will respect the COVID-19 regulations.
"The clubs fielding teams this weekend are Bundjalarms, Clunes, Daleys, East Lismore, Phoenix, Regulation Pants, SCU, Stars, Summerlanders, Woodlawn and Workers."
For newly formed Phoenix, their inaugural season has been anything but straightforward.
But club spokeswoman Tracy Doherty said the players had been fantastic.
"The 2020 season is Phoenix's maiden voyage in the LDNA and it's been challenging," she said,
"With our club's focus firmly on fun and flourishing friendships, while we have competitive spirit, for our five teams on Saturday it's all about getting out there after 126 days off the courts and playing with your team."