The Greater Open Championship, and all Newcastle Netball competitions, are set to begin on Saturday, July 25. Photo: Isaac McIntyre

Newcastle Netball has confirmed all competitions, including the region’s premier league the Greater Open Championship, are set to start their belated 2020 seasons from July 25, pending the NSW Government’s expected Public Health Order on July 1.

The Newcastle netball season was suspended on Monday, March 16 following Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people “suspended” from that date. That included all grassroots competitions.

At the time, NNA’s publicity officer Georgia Hernando told the Chronicle the association was tentatively looking at an early restart date of Saturday, May 2, with the first two rounds of the Greater Open Championship either delayed, or voided entirely.

The NSW lockdown lasted nearly two months longer than was expected, however, and NNA has been in a holding pattern since that initial projection. Three months later, the governing body has “proudly” declared an end to the delay is “now in sight.”

“NNA are very excited to announce we will return to the courts on July 25, 2020, subject to the Public Health Order due for release on July 1,” the association shared on Facebook. “We look forward to seeing you all back at netball.”

The association also confirmed all clubs would be reaching out to players to share further details on the start of the season. This is expected to include when training can officially resume, altered season fixtures, and more.

Newcastle Netball has also confirmed there will be restrictions on the number of spectators allowed at gamedays. There have been no official clarifications as yet, but NNA is expected to announce further details on spectators ahead of the restart.

Women’s sport across the Hunter is in the process of finalising re-start dates for top-level competitions.

The Greater Open Championship will likely play out a ten-round swiss season ahead of a playoff series, the Chronicle can confirm. NNA is expected to solidify their season plans in the next fortnight as the restart project begins in earnest.

West Leagues Balance 1 enter the delayed 2020 season as the defending champions, after clinching a historic three-peat in Newcastle Netball’s first NBN-televised and livestream title decider. They defeated arch-rivals Souths 45–27.

The Women’s Chronicle will continue to keep all Newcastle Netball fans updated on the Greater Open Championship and all competitions as the restart continues. Fans can expect fixtures lists in the coming weeks.