WELSH NETBALL: MANAGING THE RISK OF COVID
Updated: Mar 25
Risk management is an important part of good governance and Covid has certainly tested Wales’ sports organisations like never before.
Lengthy and complex guidance has been issued over the last 12 months by Welsh Government to stop all sport activity as well as to ease restrictions as the level of infection has lowered. It has required governing bodies of sports to translate the documents into advice for its clubs and members.
We caught up with Welsh Netball’s Vicki Sutton to find out how they have coped:
“The guidance that comes out is very high-level and it is subject to a certain amount of interpretation. It would be impossible for the Welsh Government to give every organisation and every sector very detailed and tailored information. We have a duty of care to safeguard our members and that means we have a responsibility to make sure the way in which we understand and communicate the restrictions is legally sound and that we – and our clubs –are covered by insurance.”
Welsh Netball promptly turned to Vibrant Nation who provided 1-1 support through Iolis Legal – a legal governance consultancy which has become a specialist in interpreting the impact of the Welsh Government Coronavirus regulations for Welsh sport.
“As a beneficiary organisation of the GLFW programme, our first few sessions were free and then we made use of a discounted rate for any additional work. The last 12 months have been so uncertain but Andrew, the lead consultant at Iolis, made time to fully understand the implications of the guidance and we were then able to feel confident to advise our clubs.
“Andrew also helped us with our Covid Officer training which helped reassure our clubs that they could return to some level of training and be fully compliant. This has also provided the Board with the assurance that it is discharging its duties responsibly and effectively.”
“The support from the WSA and Vibrant Nation has been exceptional and has really helped with clarity of operating parameters. This in turn has ensured our membership has been fully informed and educated and that we, as the governing body, are legally compliant.”
The Challenge for a Close-Contact Sport
Before Covid, Welsh Netball was celebrating a record high of 10,000 affiliated members. But since 13 March 2020, there has not been a single competitive netball match, bar the Celtic Dragons who have special dispensation to play in the Vitality Netball Superleague. Netball is of course a close contact sport – in its competitive format – which is played indoors with fourteen players on court – and this has posed serious challenges to Welsh Netball over the last 12 months.
“We celebrated having 10,000 members before Covid but we know we won’t return in the same position. However, the ongoing support from the WSA in terms of managing risk, timely insight on political direction and key decisions, means that we can continue to build back better.”