Kieren Briggs GWS
UNSW Construction Management student Kieren Briggs is preparing for the return of the AFL next week.

With community sport slowly preparing to return, things are moving a little faster in the world of elite sport - particularly for the professional sports. Today we're taking a look at the various sports our UNSW elite athletes are involved in and what their plans for resumption are.

AFL - Joel Amartey, Will Hayward, Dane Rampe and James Rowbottom (Sydney Swans), Kieren Briggs (GWS Giants)

The AFL is set to resume on 11 June with the Swans into the action on Sunday 14 June, taking on Essendon at the SCG. The Giants will also restart their season that day, coming up against North Melbourne at Giants Stadium. Both teams won their first round games and will be hoping that some of that momentum persisted after the unexpected break. Players have been back to full training since 25 May and are being tested for Covid-19 twice weekly. The Western Australian and South Australian clubs will be based out of a hub at the Gold Coast to allow the competition to start, as their state governments were unwilling to compromise state border closures. The fixtures are being released in four to six week blocks to allow for flexibility in fixturing as restrictions change throughout the season. The grand final is currently pencilled in for 24 October, but that may change in line with restrictions.

Super Rugby - Ned Hanigan, James Ramm, Triston Reilly (NSW Waratahs), Andrew Deegan (Melbourne Rebels and Fergus-Lee Warner (Western Force)

Rugby Australia are still planning to start their Australia-only Super Rugby competition on 3 July, but have confirmed the Japanese franchise the Sunwolves will not be taking part after logistical difficulties could not be overcome. “Despite the best efforts and intentions of both organisations, challenges created by Covid-19 will prevent the team from having time to adequately prepare and be ready to participate in the Australia-based competition which is planned for a July 3 kick-off,” Rugby Australia said in a statement. This means it will be a five team competition, with the reinstatement of the Western Force, and it will run over 12 weeks - pending approval from Fox Sports. We will update our community with more details as we receive them

Super Netball - Matilda McDonell (Giants Netball) and Olivia Coleman (NSW Swifts academy)

The Suncorp Super Netball announced on the weekend that they will start the 2020 season on 1 August. The competition was scheduled to begin on 2 May, so no games were played before lockdown restrictions began. They will play a full 14 week competition with finals and have chosen the late start date in the hope they may be allowed to have crowds later in the season. The fixture is still being finalised and will be released in the coming weeks. Teams have been allowed to recommence training together from today (1 June), with players paid for 12 hours of training a week, followed by full pre-season training of 23 hours a week from late June. 

Football - Shay Evans (Sydney FC)

While Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced plans for an A-League competition to commence mid-July and run continuously for 35 days before an August grand final, no plans have been released as yet for the upcoming W-League season. There have been calls for the competition to be included in the new broadcast deal being negotiated by the FFA and not to allow the women's competition to be left behind in the wake of the pandemic. 

Cricket - Carly Leeson (ACT Meteors and Melbourne Renegades)

The Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) has not yet released its start dates - while there has been talk about the competition being trimmed due to budgetary concerns, this looks unlikely to happen now, although a plan for games being played out of hubs in Sydney and Melbourne is still on the table. The WBBL had its first standalone season in 2019 and will be hoping their planned October start will allow for crowds to attend, building on the momentum of last season and the Women's T20 World Cup earlier this year. Cricket Australia have also announced dates for the international summer of cricket, with the women playing a T20 and ODI series against New Zealand and an ODI series against India.

Olympic hopefuls - Amy Ridge, Tim Putt and Nathan Power (Water Polo), Georgia Winkcup, Jess Thornton and John Gikas (Athletics), Tim Brand (Hockey), Henry Hutchison (Rugby 7s)

As athletes all over the world are reassessing their Olympic goals, Olympians are encouraging Australians to set their own personal goal to achieve by Olympic Day, 23 June. From juggling to learning an instrument or trying a new sport, Australian Olympians are pushing themselves outside their comfort zone – and supporting all Australians to join them in achieving their own goals. Olympic Day is an international celebration developed to promote healthy and active lifestyles, with Olympians around the world celebrating the theme of “Move, Learn, Discover”. For 2020, Olympic Day has taken on new significance for Australian athletes, who are adapting to a delayed Olympic dream and separation from teammates and normal training environments.

AOC CEO and UNSW Sports Advisory Council member Matt Carroll said Olympic Day is an opportunity to celebrate what Australians love about the Olympics. “Sport has such a positive effect for health and social connection,” Mr Carroll said. “Together we are coming through these difficult times, and Olympic Day this year highlights the need for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, respect and solidarity, more than ever," he said. “Australians come together every two years to support the Australian Summer and Winter Olympic Teams and Olympic Day is a chance to appreciate what unites us. This year, rather than entering final preparations a month out from the Tokyo Olympics, athletes are adapting to working out at home, connecting to teammates by video and coming to terms with a delay to what is a lifelong dream. Our Olympians and athletes aspiring to make their Olympic debut have shown incredible resilience, ingenuity and optimism as they reset their goals – and this June we’re encouraging Australians to join in and set themselves a new goal to achieve by Olympic Day.”