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After the developments throughout Week 4 in relation to the closure of the netball courts, the University has moved quickly to quash fears that this year’s College netball tournaments will be cancelled. In a statement to SCAN, Head of Sport Kim Montgomery affirmed previous comments, arguing that the courts were closed because of a routine “slip resistance assessment”. Whilst apologising for the obvious inconvenience this has caused to students across the University, Montgomery stated that “student wellbeing must be the most important factor in our decision making.”
In more positive news for all netball players, Montgomery reported that, although a date has not currently been set, “the remedial works to correct this [the courts] have been approved and will be carried out as soon as weather conditions allow”. Despite the reluctance to place an exact date on when this work will take place, the fact that the University is prepared to act decisively on this matter has been cautiously welcomed by College teams and players. In a further attempt to appease the netball community, Montgomery reported to SCAN that new courts have been opened as well as indoor sessions where availability allows. Crucially, the opening of these new courts will allow the College netball leagues to continue for this year. Furthermore, Montgomery and the captains of the College teams met towards the end of Week 4 to discuss the way forward and to address any concerns, adding to the hope that the closure of the courts represents only a minor blip in this year’s league programme.
Speaking to SCAN, CCO (Activities) Laura Langton was content with how matters were progressing but argued that work was still to be done. Langton stated that the priority of all concerned was simply “restarting the College league” and that the issues surrounding the courts remain very much a “work in progress.” Langton reported that a further meeting between the University and students is penciled in for Week 5, where a “plan of action” will be drawn up “to decide what would be best for the colleges, students and financially”.
Whilst happy about the league restarting so quickly after the developments of Week 4, Langton reported that there will now be a collective push towards “improving the facilities and making sure it doesn’t happen again” and that anyone with ideas on how to move the league forward should contact her directly.
Despite acting quickly and preventing the need for any major cancellations, the initial closure of the courts by the University poses questions to which answers are not forthcoming. After intense lobbying for many years by netball players in an attempt to persuade the University to improve the courts, it is unclear what it was that finally prompted the University to investigate the state of the courts. It is also unclear why, despite the increase of court fees at the beginning of the academic year, the courts were found to be in an unplayable state.