After Covid frustrations, basketball seizes opportunity as league returns after 18-month hiatus


Basketball Ireland was the first Irish national governing body to close the shutters when Covid ‘happened’ early last year, and it has remained at the forefront of the conversation by asking the government when indoor sports could hope to reassemble them.

The National Leagues will finally return after an 18-month hiatus that day next week when The Address UCC Glanmire welcomes Team Garveys St Mary’s and the sense of renewal is reinforced by a new three-year agreement with CFM Group to sponsor the league and the National Cup.

The good times are back, but the specter ushered in by the pandemic has not been completely dispelled.

Capacity limits and other restrictions remain at all sporting venues for most of October and the palpable relief and excitement as yesterday’s season kicked off in Tallaght was accompanied by the understanding that caution must remain a watchword in the predictable.

In America, the dawn of a new NBA season has been overshadowed by the refusal of a small but significant number of players to be vaccinated in a league where the jab rate is above 90% and close to the universal. in the WNBA.

The issue of vaccinations has permeated the English Premier League, where adoption has been appalling, and the GAA world where Tyrone’s manager Fergal Logan has admitted fears that the players could ‘sink’ for a few weeks if they made an appointment with the needle.

“Covid has been in almost every talk for the past 18 months,” said Jason Killeen, Griffith College Templeogue veteran. “It all comes back to it.

“When it comes to the vaccine, we strongly believe that people have a choice and that they can make that choice based on their own beliefs and their own knowledge, but as far as I know 90% of our team is still vaccinated.

“It was more of a thing over the summer with the national team because we knew we were going to be in a bubble and we had people coming from different countries all over Europe.

“The fact that Basketball Ireland was hosting the tournament, I think it was incumbent on all of us to be protected and help the tournament run smoothly and unnecessarily.”

That’s what he did.

By the time the European Small Country Championships wrapped up in Dublin, there had been only one positive Covid test thanks to the way teams and officials embraced the need to isolate and use common sense throughout.

Similar efforts have been made by James Weldron’s Irish women’s team who have paid for their own Covid tests throughout their small countries tournament in Cyprus, but the canvas is different in a national league where so many are in jobs by day.

Isolation is no longer the barrier it used to be to infection. Ireland has moved from long months of restrictions imposed to a point where the company reopens and brings with it a decision checklist for athletes living in the same locker rooms.

Hannah Thornton was a member of that Irish squad in Nicosia and agrees that there is a great element of trust required between teammates.

This extends to her own decision to keep her distance from her friends who have seized the opportunity to enter the social scene.

“It really puts things in perspective because you want to spend time with people you feel safe with. Like, there are groups of people that you don’t necessarily hang out with because they hang out every weekend.

“You have to understand what’s a priority for you and for me the minute that is having a season and playing basketball, so that means not hanging out with them. Covid taught us … I think, not to be … not to be selfish, but to prioritize what’s important to you.

“If that means not going out with a group of people, then that’s it and you can be sure you’re not putting anyone else in danger before you work out.”

Many sports restrictions will be removed on October 22, including formal requirements for mask wear, indoors or outdoors, as well as certificates of immunity or testing as a prerequisite for entry. or participation in activities.

The need to be a team player will remain the same.

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