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Netball Samoa making best of lockdown

Netball Samoa's number one concern in the time of COVID-19 is the wellbeing and welfare of its people - players, officials, administrators and volunteers alike.

The global novel coronavirus has shut down sport around the world and Samoa is no exception, with state of emergency orders preventing any competitions or group trainings from being held.

Netball Samoa Chief Executive Officer, Rosemarie Lome, is planning and rebuilding the sport here for the new landscape COVID-19 has forced upon it, and could continue to force upon it as the public health situation in Samoa and around the world evolves.

“Business as usual, but in a different way," Lome said.

“It’s a good opportunity to identify, mentor, train our local players, because they’re not going anywhere."

Programming that was initially put together by Netball Samoa as a teaching resource is now being shown every evening on TV3, so that young netballers stuck at home in the lockdown can keep their training up.

“85% of households in Samoa have TVs," Lome said.

“It’s letting people know netball is here, we are being a socially responsible association, and I want to let them know that we’re in this together."

Each show features different drills, bookended by a warm-up and cool-down along with a health message.

“These are maybe a different way [kids] can stay active," she said.

This is one part of Netball Samoa's focus on wellbeing.

“Humans are our assets for our sports," Lome said.

In addition to keeping exercise levels up and promoting nutrition, the association are trying to encourage people to share what they are doing on social media and keep the netball community engaged with each other

“All of it is common sense… just reprioritising to suit where we are," Lome said.

While professional sports leagues around the world are facing massive financial issues through lost revenue due to unfinished seasons, Netball Samoa's grassroots nature means it has not suffered those same mammoth losses.

“The running of our operations is not reliant on revenue, because we [only] get about 200 [tala] through door sales when the league’s on," Lome said.

That's a far cry from the doomsday scenarios neighbouring Netball New Zealand and Netball Australia are looking at; with the Kiwis facing the prospect of losing almost 20 million tala in revenue this year, while Australia have stood down 50% of their staff and reduced either the hours or salaries of those who remain at work.

Both associations are major partners for Netball Samoa in providing training, seminars and workshops; the programmes on TV3 were even put together with Netball New Zealand funding.

“It's beyond our control, so we just get on with it," Lome said.

Closer to home, she said a lot of momentum has been lost by the halting of ongoing development and talent identification programmes like the weekly Oriana After-School clinics:

“That was going really well, we were reaching different levels and now it’s stopped."

There is also the fear that parents opt to prioritise their children's education completely due to the time off school, and a lot less sponsorship funding being available if and when the economy dips.

Lome is keen to see how other sporting codes are tackling the new normal and what may come next, and wonders if they can work together while everything is down.

“We’re all going to the same captured audience, we’re reaching out to the same pool of sponsors," she said.

“This whole thing is about solidarity."

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