BASKETBALL clubs in Cork and beyond have been dealt a serious blow with news no indoor training of any sport will be permitted for the next six weeks under Level 5 restrictions.
Underage and adult training can only go ahead in outdoor settings, non-contact, with no sharing of the basketball. As basketball is an indoor winter sport that makes it difficult for clubs like Neptune, Demons, Brunell, Ballincollig, Glanmire, Fr Mathew's and more to provide any meaningful training for their young players.
It also leaves the elite teams in a quandary.
The basketball season ended early last March when the pandemic first hit. This season's local leagues had started in early October before being halted again, while at National League level all six Cork teams were grounded before tip-off.
The elite sides will now have to wait until January to play a condensed campaign, which is set to start with the National Cup and then move into a truncated league programme across three months.
A statement explained: "Basketball Ireland has been informed by Sport Ireland and the Sport Expert Group that no indoor training is allowed during Level 5 restrictions. All sports facilities will be closed during this time, as they are not deemed essential services. Outdoor training only is permitted; this applies to all levels of the game including National League and international sides.
"Adults must train on their own. Those partaking in exercise must do so within 5km of their home. Matches are strictly prohibited during Level 5. Children are permitted to engage in non-contact outdoor training, but under the following strict conditions:
"Outdoor training must be non-contact;
"Pod numbers are limited to 15 people, coaches are included in this number;
"No mixing between pods;
"Outdoor training must be supervised;
"Those training must maintain social distancing of two metres at all times."
Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O’Byrne said: “We are, of course, desperately disappointed that our elite National League teams and international squads cannot train during the coming period and indeed that the whole of our sport is closed down.
"However, since the initial outbreak last March Basketball Ireland has been to the forefront in pledging support to the fight against this terrible scourge.
"We welcome the fact that children will still be able to train outdoors in pods of up to 15, but note that passing of the ball is prohibited. Children may travel over 5km to attend training.”
Chairman Paul McDevitt added: “We are keen to keep people engaged in basketball during this period, so our online rollout will help with this, while we eagerly await a return to court.
"We will be rolling out extensive online material throughout November for all involved in the sport - coaches, players, commissioners, referees and table officials.”
Charles Higgins, chair of the ‘Return to Play’ group, added “This is a trying time for everyone. I’d urge people to abide by the restrictions outlined as we look to stop the spread of Covid-19. Any queries from the basketball community can be submitted to RTP@basketballireland.ie.
"I’d like to thank everyone for their efforts so far in dealing with Covid-19.”