With all sport in this country on hold indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand Football is currently working with its federations to ensure the beautiful game can return as soon as possible.However, due to the current level of uncertainty and imminent starting dates of each competition, the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup and NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup will both no longer go ahead in 2020.The preliminary rounds of each competition were originally scheduled to take place this weekend while finals day had been set for 13 September.New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell says the decision to cancel both competitions was made following discussions with the seven federations, each of whom is working hard on how the community football season will operate once it is able to begin.“The Chatham Cup and Kate Sheppard Cup are both hugely important events on the New Zealand Football calendar and give clubs all over the country the chance to compete for national glory,” he says.“This is therefore not a decision that has been made lightly but it is clear that neither competition can go ahead in its existing format within the timeframe and other constraints the football community is now facing as a result of this pandemic,” he adds.“Our main priority is on the getting the community game back up and running so that the 150,000-plus Kiwis who enjoy their football every weekend can do so again as soon as it is feasible.”
With the official alert levels put in place by the New Zealand Government set to move down to level 3 at the beginning of next week, Pragnell is hopeful that a starting date for the winter season is drawing near but says further information on alert levels 1 and 2 needs to be received before plans can start to be finalised.“New Zealand Football and our federations are working closely with Sport NZ and the government to explore exactly what can be done at the lower alert levels in regards to football,” he says.“That process is ongoing and we will update our stakeholders and the wider football community as soon as we have clarity on when football can begin and what that would potentially look like.
“In the meantime, we are also working hard on providing online training resources and webinars for all players, coaches, referees and anyone else with an interest in football so that everybody will be ready and raring to go when the season kicks off. I urge our football community to take advantage of those opportunities and stay safe as we look to tackle COVID-19 together.”
Article added: Thursday 23 April 2020