The current COVID-19 restrictions have left Sunraysia volleyballers, like the talented Zoe Smith, PICTURED, with an uncertain immediate future. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

GOVERNMENT restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all sports, however it could take even longer for local volleyballers to return to the court.

Sunraysia Volleyball Inc. (SVI) athletes would normally have a hectic schedule at this time of year, however with the return of indoor sports in Victoria still unknown, local young guns have been sitting idle.

Further complicating SVI’s impending return is their use of the St. Joseph’s College Stadium facility on Eleventh Street, which would be at the discretion of the education institute.

Young volleyballers from Sunraysia are regulars in State and National colours, however the majority of the major tournaments for 2020 have been cancelled.

August’s School Sports Australia (SSA) National Championships in Queensland and September’s Australian Junior Volleyball Championships in Bendigo will not go ahead, however the Volleyball Victoria State League has only been postponed for the time being, allowing SVI players to potentially play a modified season with zone side Phantoms.

SVI president, Andrew Zrna, said it has been a frustrating time for the talent in Mildura, however all they can do is wait.

“We can’t do anything until we get the green light from the Government, and because we play volleyball at a school venue, we’re also at their beck and call,” he said.

“If they decide not to let us run our sessions there, which I can understand, then we’ll be further behind than other sports.

“We normally have a pretty good representation at the Nationals so that was pretty disappointing (for it to be cancelled). We’ve had a great number of SVI athletes involved and in 2019, we had four players in one Under 17 Boys side alone.

“We’ve got a really good group of six or seven kids who would have been in their last year of state representation, and now unfortunately due to circumstances beyond their control they won’t get that last chance to wear the Big V. They worked really hard to get themselves into the positions they did.

“Over the past few years we’ve had a couple of kids go to Thailand with an Australian touring and development squad, and obviously that won’t be going ahead.

“The Phantoms in State League, it’s currently postponed and they’re looking at the possibility of a delayed start to the season and playing a shortened fixture, but of course it all depends on when the restrictions allow indoor sport again.

“We wrapped up our most recent local season without finals when the restrictions came into effect.

“We’re keeping our members up to date whenever we get new information. We’re ready to go but we’re just in a holding pattern really until we hear more from the government and until we hear from St. Joseph’s College. Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later.”