Panthers have not entered any teams for the next South League campaign following a decision by the Guernsey Netball Association and this year’s inter-insulars and ‘Uptons’, initially still in the pipeline for September, have now been cancelled altogether.
The GNA are planning an additional competition to fill the sizeable void but amid this ongoing pandemic, recommitting to South League action seems highly improbable.
The reason? ‘Player safety is paramount,’ said GNA secretary Heidi Rosamund.
‘We want to ensure Guernsey players continue to develop, albeit it’ll be on-island until such a time we can travel safely.’
Senior Panthers team manager Amber Stables expects a year ‘to rebuild, work on areas of development and look at bringing some youth through the team’.
‘The decision was made by management and the seniors respect that decision for the health and safety of the team and their families,’ added Stables.
There may be some post-Christmas joy for the youngsters, as the U14s eye a merciful Sussex County League who will consider backing up their games until the start of 2021.
The GNA are also looking at finding the U16s some away matches later.
But whether anyone plays off-island hinges on the borders opening up safely.
As regards the two clashes with the sister isle, the proposition to cancel came from Guernsey and the plan is still to travel for ‘inters’ and host the ‘Uptons’ locally, but in 2021 instead.
‘We had consulted with Jersey, taking into consideration Jersey’s choice to bubble up with the UK and the fact that the UK are still experiencing difficult times with regards to Covid,’ added Rosamund.
‘Naturally we, as a sporting organisation, will always put the wellbeing of our athletes first and therefore the decision, which wasn’t made lightly, was to cancel the event and return back to norm next season.’
JNA president Linda Andrews said: ‘We don’t know when netball’s going to start up again and they’d have to fly over here – some of the parents wouldn’t really be happy about that.
‘Originally it was just going to be postponed – we were looking at September and using it as a build-up to get back into netball – but we couldn’t keep delaying it, so Guernsey put the proposition to us to cancel.’