The Sal’s NBL is working on seeing their women’s competition played in 2020.
Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, the League held high hopes for a ground-breaking season for the women's competition with six teams spread across New Zealand set to enjoy all games being broadcast on Sky Sport for the first time ever. It was set to be a major step for the League’s presence as women’s basketball continues its rise.
Unfortunately, within days of the men's competition being postponed in late March, the teams and Board for the women’s League also made the difficult decision to postpone.
Sal’s NBL General Manager, Justin Nelson, says the League, teams and Board are hopeful for a return soon.
"The planning that had gone into the Sal's NBL women's competition for 2020 had been enormous. The Board, the NBL staff and the teams were all very excited about elevating the league to a new level, complete with the amazing broadcast partnership and a naming rights partner.
"The task of getting the competition back up and running is challenging given the money and revenue streams lost by the teams and the League. The losses are significant," Nelson added.
Currently, the League is working towards a reformatted competition to be played as late as October or November.
The Sal's NBL men's competition will tip off next Tuesday (23 June). The men’s League was rescheduled, reformatted and then launched with a creative Player Draft to equalise the teams. The NBL also needed to hold all games at one venue to help manage costs. Nelson can’t say if the same model would work for the women's competition.
"How we do it hasn't been decided yet, it's too early to work that out. We really need to further assess the financial state of our teams and the League, before we can lock in a model that we are all financially capable of delivering.
"We are driving to make this work. We must look at every opportunity, push for funding and extra help, find more partners, beat the drum loudly and do all we can to get these amazing athletes back on court.
"We have so many fantastic Kiwis playing basketball right across the world and, right now, most of them are back home. They want to get back to work."
Former Tall Ferns star and current NBL Board member, Donna Wilkins, remains hopeful players will be back on court soon.
“What the NBL has done for the men’s competition is inspiring and it would be awesome to see something happen for the women’s league.
“Last year’s coverage on Sky TV was a fantastic leap for the League. Women’s basketball is on the rise here and we want our elite players to be on our screens, continuing to lift the game’s presence around the country. Young Kiwis are flocking to basketball and it’s our responsibility to ensure they have an opportunity and an inspiring pathway to aim at. The Sal’s NBL is a big part of that strategy,” says Wilkins.
The League is expected to make a further announcement in later in July.