It is with great regret that Welsh Netball must share the news that the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup has been cancelled by the International Netball Federation.
Today, the International Netball Federation (INF) announced its decision to cancel the Netball World Youth Cup 2021 (NWYC) which was scheduled to take place from 2-11th December in Suva, Fiji. This decision was made by the INF Board at their meeting on March 12th after taking into consideration all the risks related to hosting the event during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the safety and wellbeing of participants and the Fijian population at the heart of the decision.
Commenting on the cancellation of the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup, Welsh Netball CEO, Sarah Jones said: “We were saddened to learn of the cancellation of the Netball Word Youth Cup due to COVID-19.
“Our Wales Under 21 athletes and management will understandably be devastated by this news having worked so hard towards the World Youth Cup. Our Under 21 athletes are the stars of the future and I want to pay tribute to all of the effort they have been putting into fundraising for their programme.
“Supported by a fantastic group of voluntary coaches, I am confident that they will emerge stronger from this set-back. We will be liaising closely with the team management on next steps for the squad as we look towards a post-pandemic future for international and age group netball.”
INF, in consultation with the Fijian Government, the NWYC Organising Committee (OC) and the twenty netball nations who had qualified to take part, identified significant COVID-19 related challenges surrounding the event. A comprehensive risk assessment was undertaken, highlighting a number of challenges including welfare of youth athletes; the inability of teams to adequately plan and prepare together for an intense level of international competition, on-going border closures, travel restrictions including quarantine measures and costs, and the protection of Fiji, a nation which has seen low COVID-19 numbers as of March 2021.
INF President, Liz Nicholl CBE, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we make this decision to cancel the Netball World Youth Cup 2021. Our U21 athletes represent the emerging talent at an international level, and we recognise this announcement will be a significant disappointment for them, for our Members, our fans and indeed for all the netball family. We thank the organising committee for their considerable efforts thus far in planning for the event and for the ongoing support of the Fijian Government in relation to hosting.”
In consultation with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, the Minister for Youth and Sports, Praveen Kumar Bala said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the decision, we appreciate that it was made in the best interest of all stakeholders. The Fijian Government looks forward to working with INF in the future to host an international event, in an environment that safeguards the health of all people involved.”
The NWYC is the pinnacle of netball competition for emerging players under 21 years of age with INF hosting an U21 International competition every four years since 1988. INF announced on the 8th of February 2017 that Netball Fiji had won the rights to host the second staging of the Netball World Youth Cup. In July 2020 INF announced that the due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, the NWYC would be postponed from June to December 2021.